Dear Truth School Family,

Earlier this week, the leadership of the Truth School thought the situation with the coronavirus in this country and around the world was changing each day.  Now we realize it is changing each hour!

And so we are adapting, adjusting, and continuing to think about how to keep everyone safe.

Many trainers have expressed their discomfort gathering in a group setting to teach their classes, several sites have closed down and so we cannot hold classes there, and the crisis seems to have reached a new level.

Consequently, the Truth School is suspending all classes for the remainder of the month of March.  We believe this is the wisest decision to keep us all safe and to encourage folks to stay home and stay well.

We hope to resume classes in April…Early April?  Mid-April?  Late April?  At this point we simply do not know.  Please watch our website and Facebook page for updates.  When we do resume classes, it will be wonderful to gather together again, without fear, face-to-face.

We are considering offering some classes via Zoom and that may happen!  We are thinking about whether we can do that–if we have the administrative person-power!  Offering classes, in the future, by Zoom MAY happen, but right now we are cancelling all classes until further notice.  We will send out alerts and updates if classes will be held by Zoom.

This crisis is frightening, isolating, and tremendously worrisome.  We have to hold one another at arm’s length, literally.  But we only need to be creating a physical distance.  Let’s hold one another close emotionally and convey concern, hope, and caring in all the ways left to us that are safe–and there are many!  Let’s stay “in touch” as a community, reaching out to those most vulnerable, offering support to those who are alone, and extending a hand of warmth and care to elders, friends, and neighbors via notes, calls, emails and any other means that say “I have my eye on you and I hope you are okay.”

We regret that our Truth School classes are cancelled through March….and maybe beyond.  We wish you all well.  Stay safe, take good good care.  We will keep you posted as things change and evolve.

Sending you my very best,

Rev. Dr. Andrea Ayvazian


Truth School Response to Coronavirus (for now)

Dear Truth School Family,

I am writing to you now, on behalf of the leadership of the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership, about our response to the coronavirus crisis and how to keep folks safe as we move forward.  

This crisis is evolving and changing rapidly, so this is our best response as of today, March 11, 2020.

Please watch our website and our Facebook page for up-to-the-minute alerts and updates.  We will post new information as the situation changes and if we need to make further adjustments.

As of today, here are our thoughts with regard to moving forward with Truth School classes:

* All Truth School classes will be held, with the considerations, guidelines, and stipulations outlined below.

* Anyone planning on attending a Truth School class who has concerns or fears about participating and chooses to NOT attend the class because of the coronavirus, we support you fully.  We understand.  Please make your decision about participating in the class or not based on what is right for you medically and emotionally.  You have our full support, whatever you decide We ask that if you feel sick, you do not attend a TS class.

* If a Truth School trainer is ill or does not feel safe teaching the class, the class will be cancelled.

* If the site where the class is to be held does not want us to gather a group there, the class will be cancelled.  (We will not be moving classes to other locations.)

* Our classes are generally not large.  The Host, providing logistical support for the class, will ask all participants to sit safe distances from one another.  The Host will also have cleaning materials to disinfect surfaces that people might touch.

* Trainers are being asked to keep the class participants in a large group and suspend small group work, role plays, huddles, and anything that would require participants to be in close proximity or touch one another.

* Again, please check our website and FB page frequently for last-minute changes, announcements, and cancellations.  That is our best and fastest way to reach you!  (We will not be sending texts or making phone calls should classes be cancelled.) We do not want anyone appearing at a class that is cancelled because you did not get the news.  

Thank you for your vigilance.  And know that all of us at the Truth School are very eager to pull in together in a close and caring fashion emotionally–in terms of supporting and connecting with one another–as we are required to practice social distancing and literally keep each other at arm’s length.

We want to do everything possible to move forward in as safe and prudent a manner as we can.  We honor your personal decisions about what is best for you, and we will be monitoring this situation hour by hour.

Thank you for your involvement with the Truth School.  We value each one of you so much.

Warmly and my best wishes to you,  Andrea

Rev. Dr. Andrea Ayvazian

a house party success!

Wildly Successful Truth School Fundraising House Party!
– from Truth School Director Andrea Ayvazian

Our heartfelt thanks to Lynn and David Barclay of Northampton for hosting a fundraising party in their very beautiful home in Northampton.  They rallied a big crowd of neighbors and friends and with delicious food and apple cider flowing, we settled into a great program.  Three trainers–Rose Sackey-Milligan, Jade Barker, and Lindsey Peterson–spoke about their Truth School classes and folks asked questions about the classes, the School, and more.  We set a goal of $5000 for the evening and checks are still coming in.  We are very very very close to our goal as I write this so I am sure we will reach the $5000!  Two couples who arrived with their checks to the School already written tore them up and wrote larger checks.  It was an evening filled with hope, inspiration, community, laughter and deep appreciation for the Truth School!  Thank you again Lynn and David, and hooray for our team!
yummy food too 🙂

Labyrinth through Fear

Fear abounds. How to move through, how to be present to it, how to get beyond the confinement and isolation of fear into action, movement, creativity, life…

Join for Saturday’s free Truth School class Labyrinth Through Fear

This workshop offers participants the opportunity to transform the energy of fear and adversity into courage and hope. All are welcome; there are no pre‐requisites for this class, just come with an open heart. Register here

led by Janet Aalfs, Poet Laureate Emeritus of Northampton, Master Martial Artist and Integrative Dance Instructor, Founder and Director, Lotus Peace Arts at Valley Women’s Martial Arts; and Ingrid Askew, a theatre‐maker, cultural activist, and the Executive Director of Crossing the Waters Institute for Cultural Exchange. Ms. Askew lives in the Pioneer Valley and also in Cape Town, South Africa, where she facilitates theatre‐making projects with community activists and artists. Her most recent project is “Labyrinth Through Fear” which she developed with Janet Aalfs.


big news

From the Director

Well hold on tight! The Truth School is growing and changing and wow, good stuff is happening and more changes lie ahead!

One big change happened this Fall when we moved our office from Race Street in Holyoke to State Street in Springfield.  The office is now embedded in the Alden Baptist Church where I serve as an Associate Pastor.  We love being in a downtown Springfield church with the buzz of the city all around us, and we cherish the support the Alden Church family provides the Truth School!  Thank you Alden!

Another change that has happened is that we have expanded our Partners Program and we are excited about that.  Truth School Partners have been, for the last three years, houses of worship up and down the Pioneer Valley who support the Truth School by providing the School with an annual financial gift, promoting our classes by including us in announcements and newsletters, and offering free space for Truth School classes and meetings.  We have 13 formal Partners and we will be reaching out to more houses of worship in 2020.  But a change occurred this fall, our first NON-house of worship became a formal partner and we are delighted.  River Valley Co-op in Northampton gave the Truth School a $1500 contribution, plus they have been promoting our classes and have offered their board room as a free space for us to hold classes and/or meetings.  We welcome the River Valley Co-op as a formal Truth School partner, and we will be reaching out to other groups and nonprofit organizations to partner with us as well!

And the final (really really really) big change I will highlight at this time is the School is stepping out on faith and growing up (in a way)…the Steering Committee has made the decision to break away from our fiscal sponsor, the Institute for Policy Studies in DC, and become our own 501(c)(3) organization in 2020.  We are deeply grateful to IPS for being our steady parent the first three years of our existence!  IPS stepped in immediately, when we were just a twinkle in the eyes of the school founders and took us on as their movement-building school—and for that we will be forever grateful!  But it is time we manage our own money, pay our trainers ourselves, and take on our own financial management.  Our lawyer has filed the paperwork, which is extensive (as many of you probably know!) and we are now waiting to be granted our own nonprofit status in the spring of 2020 (we hope).  All fingers and toes are crossed that this will come to pass without glitches and setbacks.

The Truth School is now three years old!  Happy Birthday Truth School!  And you, dear extended Truth School family, have made us the success that we are!  We are growing and growing up, changing and becoming more stable and effective—while still remaining light on our feet and committed to our original vision and purpose.  Thank you for all you do and give—and for being part of this remarkable little gem, the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership!

Happy New Year to each one of you and many many thanks,