Responses from K - 12 Students and Teachers

"I just wanted to write to thank you and Connie for stopping by at our school and speaking to us for five days. A lot of kids don't give people such as yourself the respect that you deserve in being a traveling ministry and devoting your life to spreading the word. I wanted to let you know that you touched me and a few of my classmates very deeply in your talks with us. I've always heard stories of people traveling and living with other people and being technically homeless, but I've never actually met anybody that does, until you two stopped by our school. Seeing you, and reading Daniel Quinn's Story of B made me realize, 'Wow, there are people out there in our culture that actually break away from the mindless and selfish consumerism completely and live their life for a purpose and a greater meaning.' You taught us something that we'll remember and keep with us for the rest of our lives." — Jordan Wilson, senior at Malcolm Shabazz (Alternative) High School, Madison WI

"Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow visited our school and left a lot of room behind — a space, a storied universe. Ms. Barlow in single classrooms showed the hidden stories behind the scene: she animated North America's megafauna, plants, and the basic elements. Mr. Dowd motivated children to see greatness in their own lives as part of this vast universe, and he also spoke on Western culture's evolution to a faculty assembly. Both not only expanded our ideas but embodied hope in this troubled time, encouraging us to think life through. Thanks is only a surface gesture; it's what we do with knowledge that counts. The faculty of Wingate High School were inspired by their offering." — Stan Renfro, English teacher at Wingate High School, a BIA boarding school near Gallup, NM

"Connie and Michael: Thank you so much for your presentations at the NAMTA conference [North American Montessori Teachers' Association] in Portland. We came back to our classrooms reinspired. We are rededicated to the Great Story and are looking forward to a continuing connection with your work." — Kathleen Allen and Gerard Leonard, The Montessori School of Wilton Connecticut

"Michael: Thank you for giving my students an opportunity to stretch their minds." — Judy Virtue, theology teacher, St. Ursula Academy (Catholic high school for girls), Sylvania OH.

"Your presence here in Maryland made a big impression on folks, and they are still talking about what they learned and what they are inspired to learn about (and hopefully will be for a long time). One of the most remarkable aspects is the deep impression Michael's talks had on our young people, particularly the teenage boys. They were engrossed for the entire time and found ways to either hear Michael again or to read more about what he spoke about." — Robin Hessey, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia, MD

"Thank you, Connie, for doing a guest program for our 11-13 year olds, while Michael was delivering the sermon on Sunday. The kids loved your "We Are Stardust" session, and benefitted from the program. Come back and see us anytime!" — Michael Malone, Director of Religious Education, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Miami, FL

"Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd participated in the National Meeting of the National Center for Independent School Renewal, in February of 2004. Michael delivered the keynote address and both conducted small group discussions. They were both superb. As I met folks coming from their sessions I heard them say that they had some very new ways to look at some very old things — for example, the universe some 14 billion years old. Teachers felt stretched in thinking about both science and religion. I would recommend them to speak to any group of people who are searching for the truth and trying to make that search important in their lives and in the lives of those around them." — Bob Shirley, president, National Center for Independent School Renewal

"Connie and Michael: Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your great stories with us. This has been a wonderful way to get myself thinking about teaching again. I can't wait to bring the North American Continent story to Northwest Montessori. Please know that you are always welcome here." — Cynthia Yost, Montessori teacher and provider of home hospitality for The Great Story tour

"Thank you for the stunning presentation you both gave at our Montessori Schools of Connecticut conference. Your work is blessed and very important." — Deborah Deguire, Litchfield CT.

"Thank you, Connie and Michael, for a great intergenerational service. The church was a buzz with delight at the coffee hour and happy comments kept coming my way all week! What was so great was that the service flowed so well that it kept the attention of kids and adults throughout: to learn what we humans share with dinosaurs, to get a picture of what life was like in America long before humans arrived, and to do a Stardust Communion affirming our ancestral link to the stars. We laughed and we cried, and we felt the awe together — everyone from Christians to Religious Naturalists to atheists. Your ebulience, enthusiasm, and erudition captured us all! " — Rev. Sarah Clark, Peterborough NH Unitarian Universalist Church

"Thank you, Connie, for sharing your passion for science with our Middle School class. Not just anyone could come into our class and share what you did, and at the same time keep kids ages 11-14 captivated for a whole hour. What you share comes straight from your very soul and it holds any adult or child's attention, no matter what their particular interests may be. Your topic tied in so well with our "Interdependent Web of Life and Earth Awareness" unit of study. The intent of this unit is to build a sense of kinship and interdependence with all of life, as well as to enable children to sense the wonder and mystery of birth, growth, and death. In one hour, Connie, you managed to hit on all of this, in a most profound way. My son, Amby, who was in the class, said, "I thought it was so exciting, what Connie said, that we are all stardust. It was cool how she said that I am 13 billion and 12 years old. " — Nancy Francisco, Religious Education teacher at Unitarian Universalist Society of Springfield, MA

"This was my first time at an EarthSpirit Rising Conference. I must say, I was completely enthralled with Connie's charismatic and enthusiastic presentation for children." — Millie Willis, Roanoke VA

"Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd made an excellent presentation to my class of twenty high-school seniors and juniors who have been studying issues relating to science and religion all semester long. Connie and Michael work very well as a team and easily held the students' interest. I only wish the class period had been longer so that there would have been more time to respond to the various questions the students wanted to ask." — Fr. James A. Wiseman, O.S.B., St. Anselm's Abbey School, Washington, DC

at Children's Center Montessori, St. Paul MN

  • "Thank you for spending so much time with us you were so energetic. You taught us a lot about prehistoric life. The story of the turtle island was fantastic. It was unbelievable that we are 13 billion years old! and that we are made out of stardust it makes me feel like a Godess. I don't like it. I love it." Love, Eileen
  • "I liked the part about the golden age of turtles because turtles are one of my favorite reptiles. I think that I would have liked to live in the golden age of turtles. I really liked your necklace too. We liked your necklace so much that the whole school is going to make one. I hope you can come again." Love, Lucas
  • "I never knew that we were made of stardust and prehistoric animal atoms. I liked how you made north america out of the jump rope and how the stuffed animals fit in it. We are going to make a necklace just like yours. I am glad you came. I hope you can come next year." Sincerely, Nate
  • "Thank you very much for coming to visit us. You were fantastic. I don't think anyone could get smarter than you. I loved the way you used every stuffed animal [that we brought in from our homes]. Also the whole school is going to make a necklace like yours. I loved it when you talked about the tiny horses and how the camels evolved in North america. And it was very fascinating to find out that we were made of star dust and 13 billion years old. Please come again." Sincerely, Storrie
  • "I am glad you came. what I like the most are crocodiles I hope you come again. you are wise and I like your necklace I want to mak one too. mine will have the Big Bang. the Big Bang bead will be red." Love, Andrew
  • "I really liked the part when the medyor hit the Earth and wiped out evrything to Japan wow what a medyor. I really think that was nice that you use stuffed aniamal for your story. I hope you come again." love, Reid
  • "Thank you for telling us that we all are 13 billion years old. When you said I am maid of star dust, I was very happy because I liked space and I want to be part of it. I feel lke a alien. Plese plese plese come again." Love, Liza
  • "It was great. I liket the golden age of turtles. I allso liket the way you used rope to make north amarica." Love, Ryan
  • "I never knew that everyone was 13 billion years old. I loved the time necklace. The story was great about the golden age of turtels, the first mammals, the metiore, etc. I thought the whole thing was majestic." from, Brady
  • "I liked how you told us about Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic eras. I liked how you tought us about the beginning of north america with the river and everything."
  • "Thank you for coming and teaching us about time and using our animals to explain it better. I also very much liked your necklace and how you made up what each bead meant. I never knew that the bearpaw sea went through north america." Sincerely, Mac
  • "It was very fun, my fuavurit puart wus evuluoshun." love, IAIN
  • "I liked the part that you taught us about the horses and the part where you taught us about the dinosaurs and the turtels." Love, Mashal
  • "My favorite part was when you told about turtles and how the indians belived that the beaver kept putting the mud on the turtles back." Sincerely, Malone

  • "The relief you provided for both of my sons" (excerpts from an email following a program by Michael Dowd in 2008 at a Catholic church in southern Wisconsin)

    "Dear Michael: Thank you for the absolutely great talk you gave last night. I am most happy about the relief you provided for both of my sons who attended. They have worried about what will happen to them when they die — perhaps too many fundamentalist views floating around landed on their heads and became fact. I have struggled with helping them. Last night you really helped them to see things differently and gave them a sense of relief about their own salvation.
       "Prior to your talk, my 15 year old son couldn't let himself believe in evolution because he wanted to believe in the biblical teachings. He thought if he believed in evolution he couldn't really believe in God. But now he tells me that evolution makes sense where the biblical teachings were questionable. You helped him to connect the dots. Now he can believe in both. He now feels free to trust his instincts about God and not worry about it anymore.
       "My 13 year old son picked up the Jesus loves Darwin fishes bumper sticker at your book table after your talk. He now has it hanging above his bed. He says he looks up at it at night and smiles because he is not afraid anymore."

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