Summer is the perfect time to read! You may already have seen our summer reading idea lists for our Grace students (if not, scroll down for links); but what’s Head of School Jen Danish reading this summer?
“Each summer, I collect a stack of books that I hope to read in the advancement of my work in schools. Now that I am entering my third year as a Head of School with the desire to read texts that speak to all of the ways we can strengthen our work, the wish list has grown even larger! With the biggest challenge of finding the time in my day to read, I have set a new intention this summer. I hope to read every morning for at least an hour before I head to the office. It’s my freshest time of day and it will also allow me to fit in some of the fiction I want to tackle this summer. I gave it a try this morning and it was a great way to begin my day.
And so on my list this summer:
The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys, by Eddie Moore, Ali Michael and Marguerite W. Penick-Parks
Eight in ten teachers in America are white women. Black boys need schools to see and understand them in deeper and more culturally competent ways. The school where I am the Head, Grace Episcopal Day School in Maryland, is made up of over 50% students of color and yet our faculty and administration is predominantly white. While we strive to build more diversity in our faculty, this guide is filled with chapters by different educators and also includes tools for the classroom that I hope can strengthen our perspectives as white educators.
Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less -and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined, by Scott Sononshein
Recommended by NAIS President, Donna Orem, I am drawn to this book as the Head of a small school that is often doing more with less. In a world that is continually focused on things being bigger and better, this books explores the power of working with less and how it can actually lead to better results. I see this tension in our need to compete as independent schools and I’m curious about how we might look at our resources and our outcomes differently.
The Way of Mindful Education: Cultivating Well-Being in Teachers and Students, by Daniel Rechtschaffen
At Grace, we have two teachers who have incorporated mindfulness into their classrooms with great success. In an effort to support our students more deeply, especially as we see more and more students managing anxiety and depression, we will read this as a whole faculty. We also hope it offers teachers some real support and balance in their daily work.
Future Wise: Educating Our Children for a Changing World, David W. Perkins
I am reading this book with our two Division Heads at Grace as we continue to question and explore our pedagogy with an eye towards innovation. David Perkins, founding member and co-director of Project Zero at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, emphasizes the value of curriculum in preparing students for a changing world.
Teach Like Finland: 33 Simple Strategies for Joyful Classrooms, by Timothy D. Walker
One of my colleagues at Grace is married to a Finnish man and spends a number of weeks each summer in Finland with her family. We continually talk about the attention the country has received as a high performing nation in schooling. I am drawn to this book since it is written by an American teacher who leaves the US burned out by his teaching and moves to Finland. The book is organized into chapters that focus on areas like well-being and belonging. School should be joyful – above all else!
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, by Anthony Ray Hinton
Last summer, I read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. That book about Stevenson’s work freeing black men and women from death row was one of the most heart-wrenching and powerful books I have ever read. It gave me new insight into unjust incarceration of African Americans in our country and the persistence of racism in our justice system. This memoir, chosen for Oprah’s Summer Reading Book Club, is by a man Stevenson freed from death row in 2015. He was wrongly imprisoned on sat on death row for over 30 years.”