At DonorsChoose, we rave over books adapted to television, we’ve made holiday book exchanges a tradition, and we’ve filled our library with staff picks and the books teachers need most. The secret’s out! We’re book nerds.
Most recently, we took our love of books to a new level and created a team-wide book club. We focused on a bigger issue in the education world to increase our team’s awareness of the communities and policies we interact with every day. For our first read, we chose PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique Morris. Morris chronicles the lives of black girls across the country as they try to succeed in our education system; they not only face challenges from teachers, parents, and administrators, but also the criminal justice system. Interwoven with the voices of black girls, this book offers up ways we can eliminate the obstacles, stereotypes, and criminalization that so many black girls experience at schools across the United States.
Morris helped us reframe our understanding of a variety of topics, including mental health, age compression, sex trafficking, gender, and sexuality. Morris demonstrated how these challenges collectively contribute to the disproportionate punishment of black girls in schools and ultimately push them out into unhealthy and unsafe futures. Morris also presents tools that parents, educators, and community members can use to respond to those issues.
The folks on our team who participated in the book club were incredibly moved by the book and by the conversations we had in our meetings. Here’s what they had to say about the experience:
“This book club was a wonderful way to grow our knowledge about the education system and bring to light the various challenges we can continue to help our teachers and students tackle through our everyday work. ”
“I loved the book choice — the issues that Pushout covers, intersect with so many things I think about, organize around, and want to know more about ... It was wonderful to have a space to talk about those ideas with folks... ”
“I think that book clubs can be a great space to self-reflect, get a little vulnerable, sharpen your critical eye, connect dots, and brainstorm for the future.”
We hope you can learn from this book as well. Teachers spend so much time and energy investing in the education and growth of their students and we want to remind you that it’s also okay to invest this same energy towards yourself! At DonorsChoose, teachers can create Professional Development projects because we’re committed to supporting the individual growth of teachers so that they too can continue to adapt to students they serve.
Teachers, if you’re inspired to read PUSHOUT and share these ideas with your students, you can create a DonorsChoose project requesting the book (or any other resources you need to further Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts). Or, add this to your classroom library for next school year to open up a conversation about your students’ experiences with the issues the book discusses.
If there’s a book you love that you think we should read at our book club, let us know in the comments below!
This guest blog post was written by Zobaida Hossain (from our Customer Support team) and Christin Washington (from our Partnership Activation team).