Greylock Faculty and Staff Start Book Club

Alayna Schwarzer, Staff Writer

With the addition of Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds’ Stamped to the English curriculum, some faculty and staff members at Mount Greylock have joined together to create a book club of their own. Principal Jacob Schutz came up with the idea for the group with the aim to read anti-racist literature, including Stamped.  

Schutz said, “We’re on our third book and plan to keep the group active for the foreseeable future.  It’s exciting to engage collectively about how we can support one another to be anti-racist educators and to build our climate and culture to be more welcoming.

With novels like Stamped, the group places a heavy emphasis on literature regarding social issues, such as institutional racism. Leading the club is past English teacher and Library media specialist Liza Barrett. “I believe that having faculty and staff read books alongside our students is a crucial step in fostering the climate that we seek here at Mount Greylock,” said Barrett. 

So far, in addition to Stamped, the group has read White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo, and their current selection is Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson. Although the three books read so far have mainly focused on anti-racism, Barrett explained that “as we move into the future, I think we will be open to any type of book that will foster healthy discussions about important issues that impact teaching and learning in today’s world.”

Currently the group meets on Zoom. Barrett prepares both chapter and guiding questions prior to their discussions to allow for members to “critically think about [their] role as educators in this very complicated world.” 

When reflecting on their reading experiences, many members expressed gratitude for the ability to join in on conversations about the book’s topics with both members and students. 

“We hear the author, of course, but we also are invited to hear each other,” said science teacher Carolyn Starz. “Thinking of my students reading this book, I am reminded to open my ears to others’ experience.”

Although recent instances of racism at Greylock show that great action must be taken in order to create an antiracist environment at our school, members recognize that this book club is one step in the right direction. 

Social sciences teacher Thomas Ostheimer said, “This task is daunting, and I know that discussion is only a first step, but I feel more confident that with concerned and committed faculty in tandem with our concerned and committed student body, we can make significant progress.”

Schutz said, “I’m not surprised, but so impressed with the quality of discourse from the group. One reason I think our staff is so amazing is because they enthusiastically and honestly reflect.”

The club has grown in membership since its origination and now has sixteen members. “The success of the book club this year gives me confidence that it is here to stay,” said Barrett. With the possibility of in-person meetings in the future, Barrett expressed excitement in “seeing how [the club] evolves and what books we will choose to read in the future.” 

Barrett said, “I feel lucky to work with, and learn from, so many open, thoughtful, and intelligent colleagues.”