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Genet book display

Genet Elementary School, which is home to the district’s English as a New Language elementary program, added 40 new books with diverse characters and authors as a way of supporting the district’s efforts in social justice and inclusivity.

The East Greenbush Central School District Library Department launched a Social Justice and Inclusivity website earlier this school year with curated book lists and learning resources for students and families.

The project started last June as social unrest gripped the country’s attention. The district’s Global Awareness Committee, which develops strategies and programs to enhance understanding, appreciation, celebration and respect for diversity, discussed ideas to educate the school community about topics such as race, tolerance and social justice. Those discussions led to the Library Department creating a website with learning resources for students – kindergarten through 12th grade – and their families.

The resources include links to classroom resources from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Early Childhood Education Assembly and district databases.

“The goal for this project is to provide access to high quality, diverse literature and resources that represent all students,” said Goff Middle School librarian Jamie Tobin. “In creating this website, the EGCSD Librarians hope to help staff, students and community members find and use resources to open dialogues, specifically on social justice and inclusivity. But the ultimate goal, of course, is to help make our community a more compassionate, understanding place by recognizing and celebrating the differences that make us great.”

As the school librarians built the Social Justice and Inclusivity website, they also expanded their book collections related to these topics. They did this through fundraising and accepting donations from families in the community.

At Genet Elementary School, which is home to the elementary English as a New Language program, librarian Sarah Garno purchased 40 new books through a DonorsChoose campaign. The new books include both fiction and nonfiction works.

“I created a project specifically designed to purchase books with diverse characters and authors,” said Mrs. Garno. “I want our students to be able to see themselves in the books we have here at Genet.”

“Since we are the ENL elementary school for the district,” she continued, “we have students from nearly every continent in the world. It is important to me that our students from other countries feel welcome, and that students from here can learn about their new friends. These new books are helping our students to see that different does not mean scary and that our differences make us special.”

Special thanks to all of the librarians in the East Greenbush Central School District – Kate Banks, Felice Devine, Sarah Garno, Liz Griffin, Peggy O’Connor, Jamie Tobin and Laura Wladarczyk!