Skip to main content

Effecting Change through Literature Studies

Upper School English teacher Marielle Newton’s recent revamp of the study of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” evolved into a powerful opportunity for her students to effect change throughout the local community. “My students are now looking at a number of topics on contemporary race, such as education and housing disparities, the legacy of slavery, white privilege, Karens, and more,” said Newton. “Following each lesson, my students work to find videos or articles to read and then do an activity. One of my students is studying education disparities based on property tax funding for public schools and mentioned the organization, Donors Choose, and how many teachers have to get things for their classroom with their own money.” Newton said the query turned into real-life opportunities for her students to fund a local Cincinnati organization. “We decided to help fund a kindergarten teacher at White Oak Middle School who wanted to provide books for her students, many of whom do not have books at home. We’ve been talking about empathy and its power a lot, so they liked the book and emotions tie-in,” said Newton. “I thought they might each give a dollar or two. But among the seven of them, they’ve already made substantial donations. It is amazing to see this student-led initiative grow from a curriculum-based presentation I didn’t plan or orchestrate.”