Fall 2019 preview

We are implementing a new registration system for the Fall 2019 semester to hopefully improve the registration process. Some of the benefits of the new system are that participants have the ability to see all the classes you are registered for in one place, and you can also cancel your registration for a class if you need. Our first class of the semester is up. Be an early adopter and give the registration process a try with our first class of the semester!

Wisdom, Analysis and Inspiration from Seasoned Organizers – Panel Event (5/18)

Join us for a panel discussion with four experienced, radical activist/organizers! Q&A to follow.


Jo Comerford


National campaign director of MoveOn.org

Netfa Freeman


Events coordinator and analyst for the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., and an organizer for Pan-African Community Action

Jennifer Matias


Leadership coach, consultant, and trainer, Dance the Dream Coaching and Consulting for Social Justice and Social Change

Nelson Roman


Executive director of Nueva Esperanza, Holyoke Ward 2 City Councilor, activist and organizer

Teen Peers Increase their Leadership Roles in Climate Lobby Training

by Lilly Lombard
One of the Truth School’s most popular trainings, “Harnessing the Unique Power of Teens to Advance Climate Legislation,” is jumping to a new level this winter as graduates of the previous trainings—flush with experience in delivering statehouse testimonies, leading marches, making public speeches, and arranging meetings with their legislators—step up to mentor a new set of teen climate activists in classes that will be held in January and March.

Teens, including 10 graduates of the Truth School's climate lobby training, led a recent climate march in downtown Northampton.
Teens, including 10 graduates of the Truth School’s climate lobby training, led a recent climate march in downtown Northampton. (Photo courtesy of Rene Theberge.)

At the last teen climate lobby training in October, ten students from West Boylston, MA, (outside of Worcester) traveled with their Social Justice Club to Northampton to take our three-hour class. There, they met five teen climate activists from Northampton, Amherst, and Greenfield and practiced public speaking skills together by video-recording one another making powerful statements about climate action.

This model of peer mentoring was so successful that the teaching role of teens’ who have previously taken the class will expand in the next teen climate lobby training, on January 8. In addition to teaching and practicing powerful public speaking skills, the teen graduates will lead a Q&A as they share their experiences as youth climate lobbyists, legislative interns, rally speakers, and videographers. They will also facilitate break-out groups, in which they will help peers brainstorm and prioritize tangible post-training goals and action steps.

Max Shannon, Madeleine Lombard, and Aislyn Jewett testifying about climate legislation to a packed room at the MA State House.
Max Shannon, Madeleine Lombard, and Aislyn Jewett testifying about climate legislation to a packed room at the MA State House.

Teen trainers in January will include:

  • Aislyn Jewett (sophomore, Northampton High School)
  • Annika Johnson (junior, Williston Northampton School)
  • Madeleine Lombard (junior, Four Rivers Charter Public School)
  • Leif Maynard (junior, Amherst Regional High School)
  • Max Shannon (homeschool student)
  • Cherilyn Strader (junior, Northampton High School)

In addition to the January 8 class offered at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst, MA, we will also offer a teen climate lobby class offered in Greenfield, MA on Sunday, March 25.

Inclement weather policy

In case of snow or other severe weather, check the Truth School website and your email before going to class. Cancellation notices will appear at the top of the website and will be sent to registered students by email as far in advance as possible. Occasional late cancellations may occur without notice due to factors beyond our control.

Always check weather conditions and make the best decision for your own safety. 

Truth School Students Learn Campaigning Skills

One of the popular themes of Truth School classes is running for public office.  This September, sixteen Truth School students learned the Nuts and Bolts of Campaigning from two of our expert trainers with decades of combined experience: Clare Higgins, former city councilor and mayor of Northampton and the current executive director of Community Action, and Elizabeth Silver, chair of the
Northampton Democratic City Committee
and a seasoned local coordinator for local, state, and national campaigns.

The trainers covered a lot of ground in the three-hour class, including personal considerations to keep in mind, budget information, messaging and media. After the class, many participants noted their appreciation for the concrete information, as well as the trainers’ candor. Citing the practicality of the information provided, one student noted, “It was not driven by idealism.”

This fact-based and skills-focused approach is a key component of the Truth School’s methodology. Preparing social change leaders to win movement struggles requires the sharing of information and development of hands-on skills. Many thanks to the day’s trainers, Clare Higgins and Elizabeth Silver, for their past and present service and continued leadership!

For those interested in running for office, the following upcoming classes may be of interest:

Teens Testify for Renewable Energy

by Lilly Lombard, Truth School Advisory Board member and Project Administrator

Three teens trained through the Truth School in climate change lobbying traveled to the Massachusetts State House September 19 to testify in favor of An Act Transitioning Massachusetts to 100 Percent Renewable Energy and two other bills that would strengthen the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards.

After having an office visit with their state representative, Peter Kocot, the teens delivered powerful oral testimonies to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) in a hearing room packed with hundreds of concerned citizens. The bills must be first favorably read by the TUE before moving to the House and Senate floors for a vote.

Forming a youth panel, each teen told a personal story of the impact climate change has had on their lives and outlook.

Truth School teens formed a youth panel to testify at the State House - photo shows three teens at a table with lawmakers in front of them and adult audience members packing the room

15-year-old Max Shannon of Amherst explained, “The air quality in the Pioneer Valley has a grade of ‘F.’ And, as you may know, formation of ozone—the main ingredient of smog—is heat-dependent. Now, I’m a homeschooler, Max Shannon, flanked by Aislyn Jewett and Madeleine Lombard, speaking while seated at a table in front of lawmakersso I don’t know much or care much about grades… b​ut I care about this grade! Two of my sisters suffer from severe asthma. As temperatures rise, what air quality worse than ‘F’ can they look forward to? What is more fundamental than air?”​

​Aislyn Jewett, a sophomore at Northampton High School, described how upsetting it was for her to watch footage of the thousands of animals that drowned in the recent hurricanes, Harvey and Irma.​

“​One particularly striking image showed a small dog chained to a post in the middle of a rushing mass of floodwater, stranded and abandoned and facing imminent death,” said Aislyn. “It brought tears to my eyes to envision what she must have felt in that moment.”​

“So​ when people argue that the costs are too great to push renewable energy standards in this legislative session, do they consider all the costs?” Aislyn asked. “Do they consider the costs of waiting while global warming intensifies? Do they consider the costs that will be imposed on my generation? On innocent animals? O​n low-income communities who will suffer much more greatly from extreme weather, food shortages, housing destruction, and poor health?”

Madeleine Lombard testifies, seated at a table beside Max Shannon and Aislyn Jewett, facing lawmakers and surrounded by adult audience members16-year-old Madeleine Lombard, a self-professed “plant nerd,” challenged the committee, “I plan on dedicating my professional life to harnessing plants to help solve climate change. You can dedicate your careers to harnessing politics to help solve climate change!​ Model courage and focus and persistence to young people!”​

All three ended their testimonies with this plea: “​Do everything in your power to pass strong climate legislation this session!”​
Teens Max Shannon, Madeleine Lombard and Aisling Jewett jump in the air outside the Massachusetts State House after delivering their testimony in favor of renewable energy

Training of Trainers for New and Experienced Teachers [Photos]

The Truth School held its Training of Trainers for the fall session on September 5 and September 7. New and returning trainers joined our founder and director, Rev. Dr. Andrea Ayvazian, for these important workshops that ensure all Truth School trainers know everything they need to know about the school, their roles, and creating the dynamic and engaging classrooms our students are seeking.

Training of Trainers - September 5, 2017 Training of Trainers - September 5, 2017 Training of Trainers - September 5, 2017
Training of Trainers - September 5, 2017 Training of Trainers - September 5, 2017
Training of Trainers - September 5, 2017

Hip Hop Duo Rebel Diaz Leads Powerful Workshop in Holyoke

by Yamila Irizarry-Gerould, Truth School Advisory Board member

A few dozen people gathered the morning of Saturday, September 9, at the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke to hear from two brothers about the power of hip hop to affect social change. The brothers are RodStarz and G1, aka Rebel Diaz, and they were accompanied by the third member of their Hip Hop group, DJ Illanoiz.

Rebel Diaz woke residents of the Pioneer Valley up with awesome energy and a wealth of knowledge about the history and necessity of not only Hip Hop in social movements, but art as a whole. The Rosenberg Fund for Children, as a kind sponsor of the event, introduced the dynamic duo, who launched right into Hip Hop’s story. They covered everything from DJ Kool Herc, to the contributions of New York City’s immigrants to the sound and look of Hip Hop, to the segregation and gentrification of the city’s boroughs. They also told their own tale of defining and sharing public space in the South Bronx with the creation of the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, from which they and their fellow artists and mentees were forcibly evicted by the NYPD in 2013.

With more than 40 enthusiastic participants, the class was the largest the Truth School has offered to date. The session wrapped up with questions from the audience and a general sense of hope and excitement.

Win a copy of Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum’s new book!

Truth School students: We have a new contest! Enter to win a copy of Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum’s new book, the 20th anniversary edition of “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race!”

How to enter:
(1) Take a selfie of yourself with the trainer in any Truth School class you attend.
(2) Post the selfie on Instagram or Facebook.
(3) Tag us with @truthschoolma or #truthschool.
(4) Include the name of the class in the caption/post.

Multiple posts from different classes will be counted separately; multiple posts from the same class will only count once.

The winner will be chosen by drawing on October 18. The book will be signed for the winner at our event, A Conversation with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, at 7 p.m. that evening.

(If you are unable to make it to the event with Dr. Tatum, the book will be delivered to you.)

Course proposals for January-March 2018 are now due!

If you’re interested in teaching for the Truth School, we want to hear from you! In order to submit a class for our January-March 2018 term, course proposals must be submitted using our online form by October 15, 2017.

Why teach for the Truth School?

  • You share our commitment to empowering people to make meaningful change in these dire times.
  • You have expertise in your subject area and are passionate about sharing your knowledge.
  • You enjoy teaching and know how to teach interactively.
  • Your course idea can be directly tied to movement-building.
  • You are available to teach a class of 1.5-3 hours in any of our Pioneer Valley locations (Greenfield, Northampton, Easthampton, Holyoke, and Springfield) during the January-March term.
  • You are willing to supplement our promotion of your class with your own outreach to your network of friends and supporters.

To learn more and submit a proposal, go to https://truthschool.org/course-proposal.

Deadline for course proposals for January-March 2018: October 15, 2017.
All submissions must be online.

Any submissions received after October 15 will be considered for future sessions. No proposals will be accepted by email, phone message, or on paper.