LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Ada Riggins

Position: First Grade Teacher
School: King Open School
School District: Cambridge Public Schools
City, State: Cambridge, MA

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Music that Describes Ada

Ada Riggins was nominated by Michael Walker, a member of the community.

"She shows an uncanny sensitivity to what young people are interested in and meshes it with the needs of our society," are the words a homeless woman used to describe Ada Riggins during breakfast one Sunday morning.

Ms. Riggins teaches in Cambridge, MA, but she is also the worship leader of a church's Jazz Worship Service at 8am every Sunday. The words of the homeless woman that Sunday were absolutely accurate -- every week, Ms. Riggins turns the worship space into a classroom learning laboratory. She reads picture books, gives assignments, and holds skits involving all ages, races, social classes.

Her lessons, conveyed with touching simplicity and never heavy hand, are twofold. One component is to encourage people to talk to one another about current affairs. The second is what another Jazz Worship band member calls "the other curriculum," which allows children and adults, wealthy and homeless to feel comfortable with their emotions and their differences. 

Ms. Riggins is a brilliant teacher as she transforms Sunday morning Jazz Worship Service in her learning laboratory!