Engage in Conversations about Literacy and Empathy
On February 27, eighth-grade students at Chagrin Falls Middle School met a Holocaust survivor at a “Face to Face” presentation at the Congregation Shaarey Tikvah. The speakers shared engaging and powerful personal stories while inspiring students to value one another. “There are many ways to explore diversity. But if we can focus on one thing that is common across the board that reaches varying cultures, religions and abilities, it’s empathy. It encourages tolerance and compassion. Not only do we want our students to have positive relationships we want them to develop beneficial skills for success,” said Principal Laila Discenza, Chagrin Falls Middle School. “Visiting Congregation Shaarey Tikvah will have a lasting impact on our school beyond that of a lesson or team activity.”
The school extended this learning to families as well. A parent book club, developed and led by Media Specialist Angie Jameson, took place in March. Eighth-grade parents were encouraged to read the book, “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” by Heather Morris. Jameson provided guiding questions so that families can have discussions pertaining to what they were learning about in English and social studies, as they are studying World War II and the Holocaust while reading “A Boy in the Striped Pajamas” or “Parallel Journeys.” The two parent book club meetings took place in the Innovation Center where they enjoyed Tiger Perk drinks.
“It’s important for kids to understand what adults, whether teachers or family members, value,” said Discenza. “This book group experience builds this connection. Students and families received the opportunity to talk about a common theme while understanding the content, the meaning and our present responsibilities. Now the two can have one discussion at home to really emphasize the impact. Together, we grow children and this is one way we can work efficiently. The book was amazing and the conversations were profound. I can only imagine how the family and community discussions were extended. I hope that we do this each year with the eighth-grade class and the Holocaust unit as we continue to teach and practice empathy at CFMS.”