Five College Consortium

NEH Summer Institute for Teachers:
Native Americans of New England

Michelle Parrish

Michelle Parrish

Michelle Parrish teaches first and second grade at the Common School in Amherst, MA where she has worked since 2004. The Common School is an independent, progressive school emphasizing integrated curriculum, in-depth studies, and hands-on learning. For many years her classroom curriculum has included a study of Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands, which she hopes to revise, update, and enrich through her work at the summer institute.

In addition to teaching, Michelle is also a spinner and natural dyer, and is especially interested in growing and using plants for fiber and dye. She earned her Master Weaver Certificate from the Hill Institute in Florence, MA in 2010 and is active in local weaving guilds and fiber organizations including the New England Flax and Linen Study Group. She maintains the school’s fiber and dye plant garden, and has presented workshops to teachers on growing and using dye plants and flax through Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom.

She enjoys bringing fiber arts and other gardening and art projects into the classroom. She has an MA in the comparative study of religion from Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO where she began to closely examine issues pertinent to native liberation in justice and peace studies courses with George Tinker. Her undergraduate degree from Hampshire College focused on philosophy and art. Epistemological questions and concerns with social justice and social change led her into education: how do we know what we know, whose knowledge is considered valid, what social changes are demanded when the knowledge and experiences of marginalized peoples are prioritized, and how can children construct knowledge that will allow them to build a more compassionate and just world?

Lesson Plan: We Are Still Here: An Introduction to Native American Communities in Southern New England.