Like many educators, Upper School Social Studies teacher Heather Panahi spent the summer examining current political, social and environmental issues and thinking about how she could be more engaged in work around inclusivity and social/environmental justice in her classroom. “I kept coming up against the concern about the politicization of the concepts of ‘justice’, ‘equality’ and ‘activism’,” Panahi noted. “In my Comparative Politics course, I often tell my students that being an upstander and the practice of advocating for fairness and equality are not unique to one nation or platform. These are things that all of us have an obligation to aspire to, regardless of our personal politics.”
With that concept in mind, Panahi created a virtual guest speaker series for her Political Science class: STANDUP (Speak up, Take initiative, Ask questions, Never settle, Demand better, Use your voice, Promote goodness). The program will introduce students to people in our own communities, including several Dana Hall alumnae, who are doing their part to advocate for positive change so that their neighborhoods, states and countries are more inclusive, safe and equitable. Panahi specifically invited speakers who correspond with important social and environmental justice dates throughout the year, such as National Period Day, LGBTQ History Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Human Rights Day, Black History Month, Asian-American History Month, among others. First up is Candace Taylor ’09, a former Distinguished Young Alumna Award honoree. An entrepreneur and instructor at 305 Fitness, Taylor will lead a STANDUP discussion on October 1, to coincide with National Women’s Health and Fitness Day.
“We tend to think that the only way to bring about change in this country is through voting,” Panahi said. “But what does that mean for young women who are not yet 18? My hope is that this lecture series will demonstrate to our students that there is no one path or route to advocacy and activism. Anyone can be an upstander at any age!"
STANDUP will continue throughout the school year, and other Upper School faculty members are invited to bring their classes to the virtual events.
"My favorite Dana Hall memory would be the first time I ever sang the Alma Mater with my fellow classmates. That was most definitely the first time I felt like I was truly a part of something. Joining hands with my future Silver Sisters made me truly feel like I was a Dana girl."