about-bird
MICHELLE PARRISH
Bio Photo Placeholder

Education:

B.A., Hampshire College
M.A., Iliff School of Theology

Started at The Common School:

2004

Outside interests:

Weaving, other fiber arts including spinning and felting, gardening and everything to do with plants, growing and using plant-based dyes, rebuilding local, resilient, and sustainable textile supply chains, growing and processing flax and linen

What brought you to The Common School?

Progressive educational philosophy, independent affiliation, the spirit of experimentation and openness, integrated curriculum, in-depth studies, the opportunity to do art and craft projects in the classroom, homey environment, beautiful surroundings, funny and interesting kids, amazing teachers.

Tell us about a favorite teaching moment at The Common School:

In a recent lesson about the early encounters between Wampanoag people and English explorers and colonizers, students were having a lot of strong and negative feelings about the unfairness of some of the things we learned about, including enslavement of Wampanoag people, introduction of diseases that killed a great many native people, and the English colonists taking over Wampanoag villages without asking. One student stood up several times during the lesson to point out details in the images we were looking at, and to restate the ideas in her own words. The student was actively trying to make sense of the fact that even though the image we were looking at showed a Wampanoag person and an English person standing across from one another, face to face, they were not having a friendly relationship. Finally she said, “It is really sad. It’s really sad because it’s true, it really happened. But we should know what’s true, even if it’s sad.” I value the opportunity to allow kids to grapple with difficult realities, to make sense of them, and to affirm their own values of fairness and justice.

What do you like best about The Common School?

All the things that brought me here in the first place are still important to me. However, I really love our relationship with Bramble Hill Farm. I love the annual pumpkin planting and harvest, when the whole school stands up on the hill with the incredible view of the Holyoke Range, and celebrates the gifts of the earth. I especially loved the land acknowledgment of Nipmuc and Nonotuck people this year. It felt like a hopeful step toward deepening our commitment to social justice as a school.