Middle School Student Leaders

HHREC Middle School Human Rights Institute 2023

Teachers and students from 37 schools from the Hudson Valley attended the 9th Annual HHREC Human Rights Institute for Middle School Student Leaders at Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester in Rye, New York.

HHREC staff and area middle school teachers facilitated a breakout session on the themes of Respecting the Individual and How to Be an Upstander, and students met within groups to develop activities to implement in their schools. High School students helped to facilitate the breakout sessions.

MS 23 JC

The Institute began with a keynote presentation by Sheila Arnold, CEO and Lead Performer of History’s Alive! Ms. Arnold has also performed as a Regional Storyteller at Colonial Williamsburg, the Valley Forge Teacher Institute, and at conferences across the U.S.

MS 23 Sheila

This program was developed to further the mission of the HHREC by laying the foundation to encourage students to become “upstanders rather than bystanders.”

Participating schools included: Albert Leonard (New Rochelle); Anne Dorner MS (Ossining); Ardsley MS; Barack Obama School of Justice (Yonkers); Benjamin Turner (Mount Vernon); Blind Brook MS; Briarcliff MS; Denzel Washington School of the Arts (Mount Vernon); Dobbs Ferry MS; Eastchester MS; Fieldstone MS (North Rockland); Fox Lane MS (Bedford); French American School; George Fischer MS (Carmel); German International School; Henry H. Wells (Brewster); Highlands MS (White Plains); Hommocks MS (Mamaroneck); Isaac E. Young MS (New Rochelle); Mahopac MS; Newburgh (Heritage MS, Meadow Hill Gem, South MS and Temple Academy); North Salem MS; Paideia School 15 (Yonkers); Pierre Van Cortlandt MS (Croton—on-Hudson); Pleasantville MS; Port Chester MS; Robert Bell MS (Chappaqua); Rye Neck MS; Scarsdale; Seven Bridges MS (Chappaqua); Sleepy Hollow MS; Somers MS; St. Joseph's School (Bronxville); and Westlake MS (Mt. Pleasant).

Please contact Jeanne Claire Cotnoir, HHREC Coordinator of Student Programming at or call 914.696.0738 for further information.

HHREC Middle School Human Rights Institute
Photos and Testimonials

2021 Middle School Human Rights Institute

Thank you so much for your very interesting event – Sheila Arnold has a great stage presence! Our students enjoyed the event so much that I am thinking of doing the same for the whole class. I did one of the breakout sessions (the one with the 7 different clips on microaggressions) and that led to a vivid and in-depth discussion.
German International School

My students thoroughly enjoyed Sheila's performance and stated that they liked that it was a "story as opposed to a lecture."  They found her completely engaging and a few of them shared that they actually thought she was a slave!  Sheila is truly amazing!
My students also had such a great discussion about microaggressions.  They were excited to share their experiences and think about ways to raise awareness in our school.
                                                                                Woodlands Middle School

My students and I wanted to thank you for putting together such an engaging presentation. The breakout room lessons lead to many meaningful insights and conversations. My students were excited to bring what they learned to the rest of the Student Organization of Leaders at the school. Thank you for a wonderful experience!
                                                                                Highlands Middle School

Thank you for preparing everything for the Middle School Institute. I'm proud of my students' participation with Sheila and in our workshops.  It's a good thing we were on our own. They had so much to say during the microaggression workshop.
Albert Leonard Middle School

I have so much to report about the Institute this year.  For Pleasantville, it was the best yet!  We had a super day and did so much high-level discussion.  We are busy developing scripts that will be videoed by the district and shared on the website for all!
                                                                                       Pleasantville Middle School