To showcase the diversity within the school district, English Language Learner teacher Leigh-Ann Yanow and a few other teachers put together Harmony Day.
But now, they’ve added in a conference to inspire the district’s middle school students. The Living Library is now in its fourth year.
The event has 18 speakers and eight to ten students gather in a small roundtable discussion with each speaker. The speakers, or “books”, tell their story and share their experiences with the students with the goal of being a role model to them for the day.
Yanow said it’s a good chance for the students and the presenters to have one on one time to talk to each other and share thoughts in depth.
“Gratitude is a theme that can be taken into all facets of life. With our speakers today, part of their story always comes from gratitude in some way. Without that piece of gratitude, their story probably wouldn’t be what it is now,” she said.
“We hope it makes our students think about ‘what am I really grateful for?’”
Rawle James is one of this year’s presenters. He said he hopes students understand the gift and the power that is already in them.
“I hope they start to access them. Gratitude, character, resilience – these are the things you really can’t see. You can only see it when it’s demonstrated, so find the courage within you to start tapping into those,” he said.
“(I also hope) they start to embrace the life experiences, the light, the dark, the good and the bad because we all have stuff to go through. And for them to realize that at 12 and 13, you’re not waiting to be in the real world – you are in the real world. So how can you have an effect and change things around?”