Lisa Petrie, Souhegan High School
When a high school literature teacher approached Lisa looking for ways to help students gain deeper understanding of a classic text, Lisa suggested bringing members of the community into school to discuss that book with the kids. Excited by the possibility, the classroom teacher presented this opportunity to her students, and Lisa worked the streets to find a group of adults who would be willing to spend an hour discussing a novel with the kids. When the time came, library tables were arranged to accommodate small-group discussions, and the school chef and a cooking class prepared lunch for the group. The experience exceeded expectations. Adults who were afraid that the “kids wouldn’t like them” went away with a newfound appreciation of the students’ intellect and compassion. Students were pleasantly surprised by the fact that “older” residents were so smart, open-minded, and fun. Not only did students leave with a much richer understanding of the novel, but inter-generational relationships were forged. Five years later, Souhegan High School students are still sharing lunch and books with members of the community (this month, a graphic novel!), and the local Friends of the Library organization has taken the lead in introducing new adults to this experience. It takes a village, indeed.
Follow Lisa on Twitter @lisajpetrie