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Make Your Voice Heard like Shirley Chisholm

February 16, 2022 | Sossi Essajanian

Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman to serve in the United States Congress. She was outspoken and brave. She fought for equal rights for women, minorities, immigrants, and the poor. Serving seven terms (14 years) in Congress, Chisholm said she didn’t want to be remembered as the first woman or African American to do something. She wanted to be remembered as someone who “had guts.

The children thought about how they could make their voices heard like Shirley Chisholm.

Each day at Morning Meeting, the Trees Class practice expressing their ideas by answering a question and taking a vote.


Would you like to sneeze cheese or laugh jelly beans?

Would you want to be able to fly or be invisible?

Then they had a chance to make a self portrait, drawn with their mouths open… ready to speak their mind!

In the studio, children responded with paint. Shirley Chisholm was brave and teachers asked children to think of a time they were brave, or scared.
I was brave making new friends.

I was in bed and remembered a picture in my book and it made me scared so I cuddled my stuffy.

My mom gave me a kiss because I was worried by myself.

Also in the Studio, children learned about sharing what they have to say. They stepped up to a “podium” and used different voice projectors to say something that they wanted everyone to hear.

Shirley Chisholm started as a Preschool school teacher and was an advocate for education during her career. In the Studio at Drama, the children built a school with blocks and pretended to be a teacher.

In Blocks the children looked at photos of Shirley Chisholm in Brooklyn where she was born. They thought about ways to represent what they saw.

Then the building began!

Sossi Essajanian

Teacher, Sky Class

Sossi Essajanian is excited to continue her teaching and learning journey at the Mustard Seed School. She began teaching at the United Nations International School where she worked with children and colleagues from around the world. This inspired her to take a primary teaching position abroad in Nicosia, Cyprus, where she lived and worked for two years.

Ms. Essajanian has a passion for supporting children’s social/emotional skills and learning through a loving and caring classroom community. These are built on creating shared understandings and opportunities for children to identify and express their feelings and of those around them. She believes in creating experiences through pair and group work where learning blossoms through social experiences.

Ms. Essajanian also enjoys reading and talking about books and continues to pursue her second passion: editing. She’s worked in various editorial capacities in newspapers, magazines, and books. She was recently excited to serve as the development editor of a children’s book about engineering and is looking forward to leading some tinkering investigations of her own with her students!

In her free time Ms. Essajanian runs, swims laps, and likes to take long walks to explore the world around her.

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