Gentry Middle School used its “One Book, One School” event to support literacy and a sense of community, focusing on going through a single work of fiction for the moth.
“The whole school, faculty and kids read and worked with a single text and we did it as one school,” said Principal Paige Badgett. She said the help of School Media Coordinator Shannon Snow was crucial for the projects, with Snow doing much of the preliminary research for the books and choosing the work “Schooled” by Gordon Korman.
“As the media coordinator I am so thankful the whole school has bought into this concept. The purpose of One Book, One School is to unite a school through literacy,” said Snow. “At Gentry, we were already one big happy family and One Book, One School has brought everyone even closer. We now have a deeper connection made possible through shared reading and collaboration. I literally had chills walking through the halls and seeing everyone with a book in their hand. This was an exciting moment for me as an educator.”
Korman is a Canadian-American author with more than 30 years experience writing. He wrote his first book, “This Can’t be Happening” at Macdonald Hall when he was 12 years old for a coach who suddenly found himself teaching seventh grade English. Korman later took that episode and created a book out of it, as well, in the “Sixth Grade Nickname Game,” where the character of Mr. Huge was based on that same teacher.
The book students at Gentry read story is about Capricorn Cap Anderson, who was raised in an isolated commune until he is forced to attend a local middle school. There, he encounters challenges and differences among the students.
“It (Schooled) incorporates issues middle school students can encounter like peer pressure, bullying and fitting in,” said Badgett. “We are trying to build good character traits and us our Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) techniques as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities.”
She said other groups in the school involved in the program are the Student Health Advisory Committee and volunteers including Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Latza, who led a session of Tai Chi for students.
“So many children already were familiar with Officer Latza because he is our Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officer,” Badgett said. “He spoke to them about setting goals and breaking through challenges in their life. He even broke through a stack of bricks to inspire them.”
Badgett said she was pleased the students have appeared to like music they have been using from the 1960s, which goes along with some 1960s music teachers introduced them to to demonstrate some of the cultural mood contributing to the commune movement.
“We are even in the process of writing a theme song for the school,” Badgett said. “We’re working on the lyrics and plan to record it as part of a future lesson combining technology with the message. We scheduled activities for students to be related to what the lead character in the book was going thorough. Shannon (Snow) did a really good job of working with teachers to have lessons plans ready and used suggestions from teachers to extend the learning beyond text in the classroom for this entire week.”
Badgett said the project will be finished before Thanksgiving, which is a little later than originally planned but she feels the extra time is worth it because students are “really diving into the issues they need to understand.”
“We want to teach our students about helping others,” said Badgett. “It’s a good way for our school to come together. When you see kids get excited about learning, this is what school is all about.”
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