What We’re Reading

January 2022

Rainier Scholars is a learning community, with several foundational texts that inform our work. In recent weeks, we revisited some of these books, highlighting key takeaways and brainstorming new ways to incorporate them into our practice.

Here are some of our questions and ideas:

Whatever it Takes: The story of the creation of The Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), a regional effort to end intergenerational poverty through comprehensive programming and support for children and families. We share HCZ’s focus on reinforcing positive values, like hard work, pride and achievement, as well as the potential to effect generational change.

This book highlights the value of early parent support and education. It also illuminates the tension between changing the system and changing behaviors and cultural norms. Do these have to be mutually exclusive?

The Body Keeps the Score: This book has raised our awareness of the pervasive nature of trauma and its impacts on our students and families, as well as the connection between academic performance and mental health.

We will continue to implement restorative, reflective and embodied exercises into workshops and classes and will further develop our parent engagement and support.

Difficult Conversations: This guide to improving communication skills provides a framework for mutual understanding and partnership in conflict resolution.

It’s an invaluable toolkit for scholars, as they learn to navigate challenges and understand their feelings, while also acknowledging other perspectives.

New Kid and Maizon at Blue Hill: Much of our work revolves around cultural identity and resilience development, particularly as our scholars navigate predominantly white spaces.

As scholars and families face tensions within institutions that desire diversity but may not be fully equipped to actively practice it, how are we challenging, educating and supporting schools and workplaces to do better?