Mindset and motivation, equity and inclusion, faith and pedagogy — these were just some of the themes the Saint Francis High School faculty and staff tackled as they delved into their summer reading.
Employees undertook a summer project in which they chose a book or podcast to read or listen to for professional growth and interest. When the faculty and staff reconvened in the fall, they gathered in small discussion groups, led by a peer who was an advocate of the topic, and reflected on how they can apply what they learned to their school and personal lives.
Faculty members at Saint Francis have long traded articles and books to share with each other so the summer reading project was an extension of those experiences. The summer selections were varied. For religion teacher Rosalyn Moorhouse, the book “Building a Bridge” provided context in how Saint Francis as a Catholic school can better support the needs of those in the community who are LGBT+.
“With the diversity in our student body and their families, I thought it was important to address a layer of diversity that is not always obvious,” she said.
Director of Guidance and College and Counseling Hector Camacho led a discussion on the book, “Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” which addresses the importance of having conversations on race and equality.
“This experience shows that as a school we are committed to continuous improvement and we have a willingness to have conversations that might be difficult or uncomfortable,” he said.
English teacher Don Carroll co-led a discussion on the book “Earth in Human Hands,” which argues that humans must recognize our role in shaping the planet’s present and future. For him as an educator, his charge is to help students come to this realization of their responsibility and potential in the face of a changing climate.
“Scientific literacy is crucial to democracy, which is critical to making our home in the world a better place,” he said.
Educators are finding ways to apply what they have learned not just as classroom teachers, but in their additional roles as coaches and moderators. Physics teacher and volleyball coach Mike Rubin championed the book “Mindset,” and has begun to change how he talks about failure with his players.
“I have started to celebrate effort, rather than outcome. In many ways this has taken pressure off of players to know that they do not have to make great plays every time,” he said. “They just need to stay focused on the process and effort. The team is having more fun in practice and playing much looser, which in turn makes them perform better.”
The faculty and staff appreciated the opportunity to dive into stacks of books or queue of podcasts in the summer when their schedules were freed up more. They chose a topic that was meaningful and relevant to them, which will inform them on how to better meet the needs of their students and themselves. The consensus is that these conversations will help them make be better educators and, ultimately, citizens.
“This experience shows our openness and diversity as a Holy Cross community, consistently willing and thirsting to be lifelong learners, and our faith in a loving God who calls us to act in love, respect and empathy towards our students,” said Ms. Moorhouse.