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Human Library in Second Year at West Middle School

West Middle School ELA teachers Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Kennedy-Jacob held their 2nd Annual "Human Library" Project recently.

The Human Library brings in special guests with lives that might be thought of as interesting or extraordinary. The guests have "novel titles" and can be "checked out" by students and staff members. Visitors sit down with that novel/guest and listen to a short narrative of their story and then can ask questions. Students are involved in the process of finding guests, also - giving input about in what areas they would benefit from more understanding.

The project brings people together from different walks of life and exposes the students to stories from people they might not normally encounter. The main purpose is to dispell preconceptions about people. Students also learn communication skills like how to form investigative questions, practice active listening, and how to be respectful and make eye contact. They are challenged to think about the assumptions they have before they attend and how they differ from what they learned about the guests/novels. They also complete a written account of the experience as an assessment.

One novel was a Grand Blanc Twp. Police Officer of 5 years, Officer Webb. He graduated from a special program at Ferris State University that allowed him to go straight from college to police work where he is now also a recruitment officer. Students asked him many great questions, including if being an officer was at all like what it's portrayed as on TV. 

Another guest returned from last year's event, Kyle Wilson, a circus performer who also happens to be Mrs. Hopewell's brother. He "ran away with the circus" and now works at various Club Meds around the world performing on the trapeze. He currently resides in the Dominican Republic, but this is the second time he's made it back home to be a part of the Human Library. The students really enjoy the stories he's shared. 

Other guests included Rand Daboul, a Syrian immigrant, recovering addicts with different stories, athletic coaches, a World War II Veteran, a Muslim student, a transitioning transgender student, and many more! The engagement from students and the willingness of these community members to share their stories culminated in a very rewarding experience for our West Middle School students for the second year!