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Community Reflections

Read what past institute participants have to say

The 2021 Reverence for Words was by far the most successful remote program I have ever participated in. The facilitation was engaging, warm, and so organized. The guests were incredibly knowledgeable and dynamic and each brought something truly distinct to the experience. The content presented during the institute gave me tools to better connect with and support my students in a variety of ways. For example, I was able to loan the DK Islam Book to a student who asked to learn more about Islamic history beyond what was presented in his textbook. When Ramadan came around ,I felt more empowered and informed while supporting our learners through their fasts. When I met a student who shared a name with a classical Persian poet, I was able to engage in a conversation about his namesake.


- Eli Hetko, School Librarian, New York


This was a formative institute that will affect all areas of my pedagogy and personal life. While diversity is the first stepping point, I truly appreciate the perspective-taking and storytelling element that was presented in such a deep manner so that no matter what, we, as educators, are aware of the depth of the human story and its power to change perspectives and have empathy for one another.

- Mina Leazer, ESL, English, History, New York


Everything was interesting and valuable. The topics covered a wide range of information from Islamic history to poetry to art, dance, and the diversity within Muslim culture. The days were very well organized. Readings for the day and materials for the lessons were provided in advance and were helpful in understanding the seminars and workshops.

- Danielle Black, English, California


This was an amazing institute. The experiences were so enlightening and enjoyable throughout. I have so much material to review over the next year to dive deeper into all that was presented to us. For the first time in my life I am feeling like I can understand and appreciate poetry and I am so grateful for that. I have ordered collections of poets we discussed this week and I have a list of more to order after I finish these. I actually have two lesson plans I am currently creating to incorporate ghazals into my elementary school music classes. I also have a list of five other specific lessons I will developing as a direct result of this institute. Additionally, I am so excited to have so many musical resources to incorporate into already existing lessons. I am sure as I dive into these resources they will spur new lessons ideas as well.

- Jessica Kwasny, Music, Illinois


Attending the Institute was one of the most enriching experiences I have ever had. The effect will be profound: it has affected me personally, emotinally and intellectually, and I feel I have gained a hugely "widened" understanding. I will be continuing to research and study these topics and designing many lessons that will widen and enrich my students' understanding and appreciation of Islamic cultures and arts.


- Sarah Monnerat, Spanish, Washington D.C.

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As only a second year teacher I felt very intimidated at first at the different levels of experience that participated in the institute. However, as I got to personally connect with the teachers, directors and lecturers the intimidation turned into curiosity, confidence, and comfort with the material and the people around me. I really think this experience will have a lasting impact on the way I teach and the philosophies that I prioritize in my classroom. I feel very fulfilled as we are approaching the end of the institute.

- Kristy Saldana, Social Studies, New York


Adding to the value of the institute are the visits, lectures, and virtual field trips to different places on the globe. Among other things, the virtual field trips will be something that I will be implementing in my classroom so that it can enrich my students' experience. While it was unfortunate not being able to be in New York in person, the institute demonstrated that there are many things that can be done virtually that I wouldn't have otherwise been aware of.

- Miguel A. Martinez, World History, Economics, Texas


This institute exceeded and challenged my expectations in all the right ways. from the guest lecturers to the activities to the scope of conversation and reflection, the institute has left me with a ton of meaningful experiences and resources that I hope to share with both my colleagues as well as my students.

- Joey Braccino, English, New York

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