This fall has been a busy time for Americans Who Tell the Truth. After a very successful conference at Thomas College for over 100 Maine educators, AWTT traveled to Philadelphia to attend, exhibit, and present at the National Council for Social Studies Conference (NCSS), December 2-4. With nearly 5,000 educators in attendance at the conference, the AWTT booth was a busy spot. Portraits of Jonathan Kozol, John Hunter, and Lily Yeh caught everyone’s eye and gave educators the opportunity to talk with artist Robert Shetterly, Director of Education Connie Carter and Director of Strategic Engagement Kristie Gonzalez.
Teachers were excited to learn about AWTT lesson plans, the Speaking Truth to Youth videos, and the Samantha Smith Challenge. We explained that lesson plans help students engage in finding solutions for real world problems and that the Speaking Truth to Youth videos offer the opportunity to hear directly from AWTT portrait subjects and what in their youth led them to become activists. We highlighted the Samantha Smith Challenge as a dynamic educational program for middle and high school students designed to build a bridge between the classroom and the world. As one teacher commented, “I have a social studies standard to address activism and now I’ve found the perfect content and approach to make that happen.”
Teachers were inspired by the over 260 AWTT portrait subjects and eager to bring posters back to their classrooms to be catalysts and content for civic engagement projects. AWTT also connected with teachers who will share social justice lessons and curriculum to post as resources on the AWTT website. Lily Yeh, portrait subject, artist, and social pioneer, attended the AWTT presentation at the conference and shared the importance of using art to create community and put social change into action.
In addition to the NCSS Conference, several AWTT supporters, Lynn Gonzalez, Ingrid Serrell, and Judy Owen, hosted a reception for area community members and educators to become acquainted with Americans Who Tell the Truth. Those in attendance expressed great interest in bringing more AWTT programming to the Philadelphia area and will begin with an exhibit at The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr this February.