In the realm of language and cultural preservation, Teres Konwarihwaień:ni Adams strikes a chord. Teres has dedicated her expansive and commendable career to teaching Kanien’kéha. Through innovative methods, perseverance and an unwavering commitment to the Mohawk culture, she is doing her part in revitalizing the language—all through the power of music.
Teres joined the Department of Language and Culture at the Ahkwesáhsne Mohawk Board of Education (AMBE) in 2021. The concept of preserving and revitalizing the Mohawk language is not new to AMBE. This initiative had been an important cornerstone within the department for decades, championed by the efforts of the dedicated AMBE staff, both past and present. In recent years, however, there has been a notable surge in the momentum behind these efforts. As the Curriculum and Resource Developer, Teres plays a crucial role in creating educational materials for teachers. Her projects include crafting songs to enhance students’ understanding of the Mohawk language and culture, as well as developing programs that integrate language learning within Cultural Studies. She’s akin to a creative conductor, orchestrating an engaging learning experience for her eager ensemble of students.
One of Teres’ notable projects involves adapting nursery rhyme songs to facilitate language learning. By editing and arranging these songs into Kanien’kéha, she transforms them into a powerful (and catchy) teaching tool that engages students through repetition and melody. These songs are available on the AMBE website and serve as invaluable resources for students, teachers and parents alike, embodying her vision of making language learning accessible to all. Through her efforts, Teres not only imparts linguistic skills, but also instills a sense of pride and connection to the Mohawk heritage.
Teres’ passion for music and language traces back to her early years when she was growing up in Tsi Snaihne. From a young age, she was inspired by her father, Lawrence Sharrow’s encouragement and her earliest memories of music. Teres fondly recalls her father lifting her up to the piano keys, even before she could walk or talk, igniting her lifelong love for music. This early experience set her on a path of musical exploration that led her to pursue a formal education at the University of Ottawa, earning an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Music and Religious Studies, later followed by a Bachelor of Education in Intermediate & Senior Division. Armed with her degrees and previous training from the McGill Conservatory, Adams honed her skills as a musician and educator.
Prior to her role at AMBE, Teres spent 18 years teaching the Mohawk language in Ganienkeh, following in the footsteps of her mother and life-long educator, Joyce Sharrow. Drawing from her rich experiences, Teres understands the transformative power of music as a learning tool and is committed to passing on her knowledge to future generations.
Looking forward, Teres will integrate her vision and spirit into language programming, channelling projects that weave Mohawk language and culture into the fabric of Ontario educational standards. Through her dedication and melody-infused passion, Teres exemplifies the vital role of music in preserving the Mohawk language.
As Teres noted, she is “just one piece of the puzzle” in the broader mission of language revitalization. “There are so many individuals within our department and community that inspire and create magic.”