Each summer, IMS faculty and staff keep their minds sharp and engage in professional development by reading thought-provoking book selections to help inform and inspire their work. Beginning this year, they were also asked to read at least one selection from the IMS curriculum.

This year we read Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky, which follows the story of a transgender girl who was raised as a boy. Through a window into the protagonist’s thoughts, the reader learns how challenging and isolating it can be to identify as a transgender or a gender nonconforming pre-teen in today’s society—or to simply identify as “different.”

Adults in the community recently gathered for a group book discussion to address and explore the timely and complex themes that emerge throughout the novel, which was read by IMS fifth graders during the 2017-2018 school year. The faculty and staff also discussed how we can be a more inclusive community at IMS.

Dave Edson, the fifth grade humanities teacher at IMS, facilitated a powerful conversation with faculty and staff about the book and shared his students’ perspectives from the previous school year, paying particular attention to the diverse interpretations of and reactions to the novel. In his classroom, his students identified instances of bullying (both from peers and adults) that appear throughout the book, and talked about how courageous it is to truly be oneself. Last spring, Mr. Edson asked his class to write letters to the book’s protagonist, Grayson, and they wrote persuasive essays on the book. He read some excerpts aloud that were heartwarming, compassionate, and, in some cases, unapologetically honest, writing from a place of kindness.

Faculty and staff then broke out into groups to answer open-ended questions that will enable the school to continue to celebrate the uniqueness of each individual in our community, to find even more ways to empower students to be themselves, and to turn meaningful conversation into action.

Other Titles On the 2018-2019 IMS Faculty/Staff Reading List:

iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us

The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed