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Studying Other Cultures
recipients: Suzanne Sullivan, Chippewa Middle School, MI
Suzanne Sullivan, who participated in the 2013 New York City Seminar, teaches 8th graders a Language Arts curriculum that focuses on the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement and a Social Studies curriculum rooted in American History. The cohesive units help students make meaningful connections as they explore identity, history, the role of religion in society, the impact of the media, and the concept of humanity. No matter what topics she is teaching, however, Suzanne returns again and again to the essential ideas of tolerance and respect.
During the 2013-2014 academic year, Suzanne taught her classes the tenets of Judaism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Islam, and Native American theology, exposing them to the commonalities and differences in religious ritual and belief. A mini-grant from the Memorial Library made it possible for her to take her students to visit all five houses of worship, enabling them to appreciate first-hand the diversity preserved by American democracy. Though she had students of all faiths in her classes, she found it revealing that they did not discover their varying religious backgrounds until these visits. Students engaged in discussion with spiritual leaders in each place, then incorporated those perspectives into their writing and art projects over the course of curriculum units throughout the year.