Sacred Stories
Alison Mohrbacher, English Teacher

Last year, Ellen McCormick and I had the exciting opportunity to start building a new integrated course called Sacred Stories, a double block English-religious studies course where we examine the ways various ways that the Bible interacts with and informs culture as seen through literature. We also explore the Bible from both devotional and academic perspectives. This course allows us to examine how the Biblical narrative continues to shape our contemporary experiences in the United States.

I feel so lucky to teach this course. I feel passionate about my responsibility as a teacher to expand our students’ access to cultural currency, and how these two cultural elements (contemporary literature and scripture) overlap is an important piece of that access.

I’m also struck every day by the depth of knowledge, creativity of practice and compassionate commitment of my co-teacher. I learn so much from her, both about course content and about pedagogy. This dynamic is one that Forest Ridge continues to support and expand. Not only do we recognize that we as educators can and should continue to learn from our colleagues expertise, but we also know that we don’t live outside of school in silos of academic subjects.

Through this opportunity, I find myself better able to engage in critical conversations about how religion is embedded in culture with my friends and family, and my curiosity is exploding in response to the ideas and content presented through the religious studies aspect of my class.

More importantly, I see the way students engage with the opportunity to take an integrated course. Last year, I was impressed with the deep, personal and varied ways that students examined the biblical impact on contemporary life. The course was exciting and challenging to build, especially given the constraints of a mostly online class.

This year, we get to extend the work we did last year in the delightful context of in-person learning. On the days we hold this class, I feel full of gratitude for the opportunity to work with students whose openness and boldness in asking questions and engaging in transdisciplinary thinking pushes my insights and questions, and allows us to build more complex, compassionate and nuanced understandings of our world.