TA News

What Are You Reading? TA Educators Share Their Summer Reading Picks

Summer is a great time to catch up on your reading and Thetford Academy’s educators are sharing their picks! From memoirs and fiction to social justice, equity, and antiracism in the classroom, the natural world to the technological one, TA’s “to-read” list has something for everyone. Check out what we’re reading and hear from faculty about their choices.

Kristen Downey, Teaching & Learning Coordinator and English Faculty

Just Schools: Building Equitable Collaborations with Families and Communities by Ann M. Ishimaru

As a parent, it seems natural to me that families and communities should be well-connected to their local schools. As an educator, however, I’m aware that there are challenges to forming supportive partnerships, especially with non-dominant-culture families and community members. I think that now more than ever, it’s important to better understand how to strengthen these relationships and draw on our community’s expertise. This will be a book club choice with UVEI faculty this summer, and I’m thinking about also attending a Great Schools Partnership workshop over the summer on the same topic. 

Good Arguments: How Debate Teaches Us to Listen and Be Heard by Bo Seo

It’s funny, but just a year ago I was ready to abandon using the word argumentation, let alone debate, in my curricular planning and instruction. In an era of polarization, maybe I didn’t want to encourage my students to argue, but rather to come to good decisions. However, there are several TA students who want to form a debate team, and I’ve decided I can be their adult facilitator. I’m curious how debate can help students be better communicators and listeners. 

Scott Ellis, Thetford Outdoor Program Coordinator

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants  by Robin Wall Kimmerer

I have started this book and I look forward to finishing it over the summer. Author Robin Wall Kimmerer is a native from the same tribe as one of my students from last year. 

Gary Engler, Science Faculty

An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us by Ed Yong

I try to read at least one “naturalist” type book each year and this one has been on my nightstand since February. Hoping to gain fresh insights into the natural world that I can share with students.

The AI Classroom: The Ultimate Guide to Artificial Intelligence in Education by Dan Fitzpatrick, Amanda Fox , et al.

Six months ago “AI” was off our radar, now it’s integrated into our students’ work. Who knows what the next year will bring? Time to get a jump start on a positive approach to integrating it into the classroom, and this well reviewed book seems like a worthwhile read.

The Creative Act by Rick Rubin 

A book I’ve wanted to read for a while. Rubin, a music producer who has altered the career trajectories of several artists, offers his personal, thoughtfully mindful insights on creativity and personal interaction. Marshall McLuhan once said that “anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either.” Hopefully, Rubin will assist me in my continuing quest to blend the two.

Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn by David Hajdu

My “beach book.” I’ve taken a very deep dive into the music of Duke Ellington this past year. Read a wonderful biography of The Duke (by Terry Teachout) but emerged even more fascinated by his Cyrano, Billy Strayhorn. Strayhorn was Ellington’s shadow collaborator (It was he who composed The Duke’s well known theme “Take The “A” Train” along with many other Ellington tunes). Strayhorn possessed a brilliant musical mind and was a solid pianist himself, but was Black, elfin in stature, and unusually “out”  in the clandestine Gay world of the 1940s and 50s. A unique and fascinating man whose life was tragically cut short by alcohol and cancer.

Kara Toms, Student Assistance Provider

Recently, I have been making an effort to read books about the American experience in order to better understand our students, their families, and the world in which we all live. A few favorites: Solito, by Javier Zamora; I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika Sanchez; Heavy, by Kiese Laymon; The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton; Educated, by Tara Westover.

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection in the Language of Human Experience by Brene Brown

This book will help me in the work that I do with students, especially in the “name it to tame it” area of emotional intelligence.

Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind: How to Stop the cycle of Anxiety, Fear & Worry by Jennifer Shannon

I am part way through this one and what I love about it is that there are concrete steps that the reader can put into action immediately. Plus, it is only 150 pages long so it is accessible even if you don’t have much time to read.

Abby MacGregor, English Faculty 

Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine

Really interesting look at how much of what we perceive as gender is just socialization, and has been helpful in thinking about how to interact with students in non-gendered ways.

Tony Strat-Cortez, DEI Coordinator

Teaching for Black Lives edited Dyan Watson, Jesse Hagopian, and Wayne Au

I am going to order this book and possibly consider opening the discussion to some staff that may like this as a summer read/discussion. 

Rebecca Walter, outgoing School Counselor and Teaching & Learning Coordinator

Onward, Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators by Elena Aguilar

This book has been a hot one for educator book groups and professional development since the pandemic. It’s set up to be read over the course of a year, doing specific work in different areas of resilience each month (so it’s set up nicely to be read as a group over time, if people choose to approach it that way). It also comes with a workbook – and I love a good guided journal, especially over summer months when I feel like I have the headspace to do some real reflection.

Equity Centered, Trauma Informed Education by Alex Shevrin Venet

I’m actually embarrassed I haven’t read this one yet – it was written by a good friend of mine! Ali and I worked together at an alternative school, and her approach to working with students with trauma backgrounds was always cool, measured, and very thoughtful. I’m especially interested to see how she overlays the lenses of trauma work and equity work.



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