On Opening Day, I mentioned that one of the aspects of thriving was being ALIVE- tapping into the things we are passionate about and looking to spark a similar passion in our students. A few examples of this involve student and teacher authors within our own district...
One of our High School English teachers, Eric Devine, was recently featured in an interview on WNYT in which he discussed the release of his second young adult novel entitled Tap Out. When I watched this interview, I couldn't stop thinking about what a great model it was for Eric's English students.
In fact, one of the first times I visited BH-BL High School, Chris Gangemi introduced herself to me in the lobby and beamed with pride over the collection of books that some of our 9th and 10th graders had written and published. An entire collection of these books was on display in the high school lobby showcase. I remember thinking to myself how great it must make those kids feel to know that they created something so tangible and unique to themselves. I have no doubt that other students are inspired to write themselves as they pass by that showcase and see that collection.
Over the summer I received a copy of a book entitled: Sincerely written by current BH-BL eleventh grader Erin Billings. Sincerely tells the story of a teen, Lucy, who is bullied and made fun of because of a disability. Using Lucy's diary entries, the author shows how the teen struggles through the harassment and ultimately stands up to her bully. (Erin's book is available on Amazon and it would be really cool if it fit into a class or anti-bullying initiative within the district.)
These examples- while they each happen to be related to writing- remind us of a larger point: Anytime we can bring relevance and authenticity to the things we ask students to do, we will spark interest and passion among them. We instantly answer the question "Why do we have to learn this?" We help them to understand how it all fits together. I would love to learn more about (and share) the ways that our faculty and staff weave their own passions and interests into the work they ask of their students. Feel free to comment below!