We learned this about The Shefa School, located in New York City, from Student Assessment and Evaluation Coordinator (and book group manager) Susan: “The Shefa School is a pluralistic Jewish Day school with 172 children in grades 1-8. Despite the pandemic, with significant safety measures in place, we have met in person since September! All the children at our school have language-based learning disabilities. Our faculty is specially trained in various empirically-based multi-sensory methodologies to work with dyslexic children. Our students become amazing self-advocates and move on to either mainstream or special education high schools all over the tri-state area – including back to the Jewish Day Schools who referred them to us. Our students are well received wherever they go. Community schools let us know that our students know themselves, advocate well and are allies. 

For the past 9 months we have had a faculty book club (The Shefa School Faculty Book Group). Each session is run by a volunteer – a different faculty member each time. We began by reading Between the World and Me and as a result decided to do a deeper dive into DEI work as professional development for the entire faculty. We engaged a DEI consultant  who spent a full day with us and we have formed internal subcommittees to continue the work on a daily basis by looking at hiring, curriculum, language we use with one another and monthly small faculty restorative circles. In addition we have worked with a group called Keshet – A group for LGBTQ Equality in Jewish Life. Our second book was Stamped: A Remix. Each session we have ~15 staff in attendance. Our format is to present a query to guide our thinking and talking. Tomboy is the third book we have read as a group. We decided to think and read about the issue of inclusion, gender and diversity and the book has been well received. Our first two discussions were rich and everyone is looking forward to meeting Lisa. After our time with Lisa, the query for this session is: What can we, as educators, do to NOT reinforce or perpetuate the gendering of children?”

Of their recent visit with Lisa Selin Davis, Susan shared these kind words: “Lisa, Thank you so much for joining our group tonight. The feedback was that we all loved listening to you read at the outset and all of us noticed how thoughtful and insightful you are – specifically to our question of the evening and to topics about gender and sexuality in general. The notion of “pulsating norms underneath everything” and how both children and adults slot ourselves and each other into false boxes will give us so much to think about.You raised the level of our conversation and expanded our thinking and for that we are so so grateful.”

Reading is learning! We encourage educators to consider inviting our authors to visit with their staff, reading groups, and students! Free virtual visits available at NovelNetwork.com.