Ahead of 2022-2023 School Year, Educators, Parents, and Students Reimagine the Classroom Setting with Mutual Aid
For immediate release
September 1, 2022
Morris County, NJ – This week, Mutual Morris, a mutual aid organization in Morris County, NJ, hosted one of their many virtual workshops, “Mutual Aid in the Classroom” for parents, teachers, and students. Starting in October, Mutual Morris will be hosting these workshops on a quarterly basis as well as discussion groups expanding on these topics on the last Wednesday of every month. They welcome the community to join them for lively and inspiring discussions addressing the ways we can all have a positive influence within learner communities.
A misinterpreted buzzword throughout the pandemic, mutual aid projects work to meet the survival needs of communities while building a shared understanding of why people do not have what they need in the first place. Mutual aid projects mobilize people of all ages and backgrounds, expand solidarity, and build movements. Mutual aid projects are participatory, solving problems through collective action.
Topics of discussion during the “Mutual Aid in the Classroom” workshop include mutual aid’s relationship to the classroom and broader community. Mutual aid’s connection to the Anti-Racism and Disability Justice Movements, as well as the history of mutual aid and organizing in Black and Brown, queer, and poor communities in the United States were also points of conversation. Moving stories from local teachers were shared, which further illustrated how mutual aid has the potential to be impactful in the classroom and beyond, throughout Morris County and surrounding areas.
Attendee Meagan DeJong, university professor and homeschooling parent emphasized that, “This workshop comes at a critical time when parents and educators are feeling directionless and in many cases, unsupported throughout the ongoing pandemic. By incorporating mutual aid principles in the classroom and in our lives in a broader sense, we can find a path forward that fosters empathy, equity, and growth. Those qualities are essential to any quality learning environment and to our collective futures.”
Workshop facilitator and local teacher Vince shared, “We need to be vulnerable for our students if we expect to connect on a human level. Tell them we messed up, tell them when we don’t know something. They can only be brave enough to tell us what they need if they trust us.”
Co-Founder of Mutual Morris, Renee Shalhoub, explained, “When people think of mutual aid, they usually think of emergency food relief and clothing distributions, which are important aspects of community building. However, an essential part of mutual aid is also skill sharing, continuing education, and a complete reimagination of the relationship we have to education and each other.”
Attendee Allison Sommer and local elementary teacher stated, “This workshop is an important reminder that mutual aid practices are a structural and essential part of quality education and that students have been practicing it since their learning careers began. Understanding the history of education in America, and the problems that both students and teachers face, and true mutual aid practices is what is going to help us advance as educators and as a community.”
About Mutual Morris: Mutual Morris is a community mutual aid group of regular people across Morris County who came together to support those impacted by the crises of the Covid-19 pandemic and economic injustices. We have helped thousands of families since February of 2020 with free groceries, toiletries, diapers, medicine, and other care and resources. We continue to see a growth in the need for community support outside of the established systems that tend to have long wait times and overly-stringent requirements, and so we continue to raise awareness and build direct supports for each other, such as workshops and committees on housing, work, writing, conflict resolution, crafting, education, and much more.