My background experiences
NYC police cadet, tennis instructor, Master Teacher for PBS Channel 13, a news secretary, news researcher, news writer, news producer, and news reporter for television news, in my opinion have served positively, the hundreds of students I’ve taught over the past 15-years. Did I enter the educational system traditionally? No. Should I have? In my opinion, no, because we truly need all types of teachers for all of the types of students, for whom we serve.
My daughter attends my school, and she takes an after school fashion class. Her weekends are spent making dresses and measuring fabrics. She’s on fire to learn more! Additionally, her reading selections are so diverse, that she’s teaching ME stories I never learned about in school, from African folktales – to how to read math for the various learning styles out there. The Hewitt School, however, I believe is unique in that we as educators are encouraged to THINK DIFFERENT. Our mission is to serve the individual student and provide her with a plethora of enriched and unique opportunities.
Which brings me to my books symposium and my feedback:
There were plenty of attendees and from the feedback I recieved, mostly favorable. The two responses that weren’t so favorable didn’t surprise me and were actually helpful in structuring the next symposium. One quick one to share is, the fact that I am not a librarian hosting a conversation about books, came up. My response, as it always is when that question arises, do I have to be a librarian to have a conversation about books? Do you have to be a reporter to tell a story? It depends on who you ask. As I’ve said before, the world is changing ever-so-rapidly. There’s nothing we can do about it.
And if that’s a hard pill to swallow (as it is for me sometimes), then I strongly encourage you to read Nick Bilton’s, I Live In The Future & Here’s How It Works (Random House, 2010). In it he writes, “Fear certainly makes for good headlines. But fearful and anxious reactions to innovation also keep us from seeing the bigger potential of new ideas. There’s an all too human tendency to believe that what we know and experience now is the way it will and always should be.”
…and goes on to say
“Kids may seem distracted, but they will play video games for an average of three hours a day — which sounds like long-form content to me. If they don’t read a whole book in two days or stay with a television show, it isn’t because they can’t concentrate. It’s because we haven’t adapted the storytelling to fit their changing interests.” (A special thanks to Robin Adelson from Children’s Book Council for giving me this gem of a book and donating a slew of books to the symposium!)
My own symposium highlights and feedback:
1) The symposium had a lot going on, all in an effort to start an important discussion and isolate the areas that need further discussion. Check!
2) As reporters, we approach every scenario and every person, as potential story ideas. That’s why we are filled with smiles and questions, as we take NO ONE for granted. That’s the beauty of television news. In order to survive, we must think different! Students should be allowed the same freedom of thought. Books are great tools to foster this concept. Check!
3) Since it was a conversation about books, I had a collection of people speak, tell their stories, and we even had books to give away. Wade Hudson, owner of JUST US BOOKS, was in attendance and shared new releases, but he also shared his story. AND, it was his company’s 22nd anniversary that day!!! Another small book publisher, Lee and Low, sent Hannah Ehrlich to share new releases and told of the L & L story. Check!
4) I was also grateful to have in attendance Derrick Gay, who is an esteemed educational consultant on issues of diversity.
5) Olugbemisola Amusashonubi-Perkovich, who authored the book, 8TH GRADE SUPERZERO, was also in attendance and I am inviting her back in the spring!
6) Lastly, Zetta Elliott, who authored the books BIRD and A WISH AFTER MIDNIGHT, shared her personal story, and she brilliantly weaved in the importance of exposing students (and adults) the ways in which to think differently about books. She also closed her presentation with the final slide, EVERYBODY HAS A STORY TO TELL. And THAT is the next chapter for W.A.R.