Not only did COVID-19 dominate the news this summer, protests over racial injustice also made headlines.
Sammy Sinclair, a Kindergarten teacher at Sherwood Elementary in Spring Branch ISD, wanted to do something to drive awareness. “The best way I felt I could help on a wider scale is through education, and books are such a powerful way to do so,” she said.
In June, she set up a crowd-funding site through Donors Choose to raise money to purchase enough equity and diversity books for every classroom at Sherwood.
She researched and listed more than 45 book titles to purchase with the donations, some in English and Spanish. “I very carefully selected which books I wanted to put on the list for each grade level,” said Sinclair.
She imagined it would take all summer to reach her funding goal, but two days after posting her project on Donors Choose, approximately 50 donors from four states (including friends and family who promoted the project to others) had contributed more than $5,400, fully funding the project!
On the Donors Choose site, Sinclair thanked each donor individually. “Thank you so much for your generous donation! Books are such a powerful way to teach equality, inclusion, and kindness to our students, and I so appreciate your contribution!”
Once the project was funded, the books were ordered and delivered, enough for every classroom at Sherwood to receive 15 to 20 books.
“I have incorporated them into many of my lessons already,” said Sinclair. “Most teachers have informed me that they have as well. The goal is to spread cultural awareness, embrace differences and diversity, and encourage all students to love themselves and others exactly as they are.”
Her equity and diversity book project aligns with the priority focus on Literacy in the district, championed by Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Blaine.
SBISD’s Director of Humanities, Joyce Evans, is delighted with Sinclair’s project. “Literacy starts with read-alouds and oral language,” said Evans. “What is so exciting about the work Ms. Sinclair is doing in her classroom is she is educating her students about racially sensitive issues through reading and talking about them. The students are getting a chance to discuss these issues and listen to one another.”
In the Sherwood school community, Principal Sarah Salas noted that Sinclair has a heart for helping students understand they are special in their own ways by teaching them empathy, compassion and to embrace diversity.
“Ms. Sinclair’s efforts to provide this special collection of books in each classroom will benefit our teachers and students for years to come,” said Salas.
Submitted by Becky Wuerth, SBISD Communications