July 28, 2017
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”— Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher and writer.
Every person in our city has a story. It is the strength of these collective narratives that creates the tapestry that is Indianapolis. The 30,000 students and families of Indianapolis Public Schools are at the very heart of our community, the place where all of these narratives come together in a shared vision of success, growth and fulfillment. Each story is important, and every story gives us a chance to see how we are connected to a larger global community.
As the first media specialist to receive the honor of Teacher of the Year, it is my plan to use this platform to encourage us all to become familiar with the stories of our community, to broaden our understanding of our world through story and to highlight some of the organizations in our community that help enrich our student’s lives.
It is my hope that through this blog I can provide resources to the IPS community as we all work to broaden our reading lives and become more fully part of our 21st century global society. I encourage you to join me on this journey of story.
I know that we can only start where we are, and that every step on the path is a chance to shape our future. My 30 years as an educator has shaped my every step.
Living in Chicago for almost 30 years and working with families and students from across the diaspora helped me to expand my view of the world. Teaching in California helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the world of my predominantly Hispanic students. Teaching in schools where my student population was entirely African-American helped open my eyes to the struggles and amazing successes of this community. I am thankful for every honest conversation I had with parents, teachers and children, for in the end they are my greatest teachers. Oh, and books. Books, books, books, books!
What kind of librarian would I be if I did not celebrate reading as a portal to understanding? Our students are members of a rapidly expanding global community, with instantaneous connection to every country in the world. The single greatest gift we can give our children is to share with them the knowledge of other cultures, traditions, religions and life experiences. We must also help them to read about their own culture and community, help them to build a strong sense of self-worth and identity.
It can be a challenge sometimes to find culturally diverse narratives. You may find that your child is struggling with reading and not engaged in reading for pleasure. Without spending too much time on data, research has shown that third-graders who are not reading on grade level are four times more likely to drop out of high school. These children may well have academic challenges, but research has also shown that the more narratives we can provide that reflect the life of the child, the more likely they are to engage in reading.
It is my hope that we can work together to see ALL of our students excited and engaged with reading. Scholar Rudine Sims Bishop coined the phrase “Books as Windows and Mirrors.” She encourages us to read books that mirror our life, as well as provide windows to experiences outside of our own.
The links below will take you to some great starting points as you join with us to see all of our students catch the reading bug this year! Let’s take those first steps together, or keep walking down the path if we are already on the way.
Encouraging a love for reading and learning about different cultures is just a click away:
- Anti-Defamation League: Books Matter
- Read Aloud 15 Minutes
- What Do We Do All Day?
- 10 Ways to Encourage Your High-Schooler to Read
- 17 Ways to Keep Your Middle Schooler Turning the Pages