Read Across SMSD- September: Embrace New Beginnings

Read Across SMSD- September: Embrace New Beginnings
Shawnee Mission School District

As we Read Across SMSD, September is a time to “Embrace New Beginnings.”

It’s something many are experiencing, especially as the SMSD starts a new school year. This month’s theme focuses on the idea that even though new beginnings can be scary, they can be faced. Our community will be reading and holding conversations centered on this theme. 

Conversations about New Beginnings

Dr. Michelle Hubbard, embarking on her first months as superintendent, recently talked to new educators and students starting their time in new school communities about their experiences. Click here to see the video.

As he started a new position, Bryson Dunbar, special education teacher at Shawnee Mission Northwest, said he was very excited, but also worried about failure.

One way he faced his fears was to ask questions, he shared. 

“You never know everything,” Dunbar added. “When you have someone who can guide you, it can make the experience a lot easier.”

As a freshman, Calista Wilcoxon also expressed it took some time before feeling better about going to a new school. After learning where to find classes and more about what her workload would be like, it became easier to embrace the first days in her new school. 

“Listening helped me,” Wilcoxon shared. “Hearing from older students about what it was like for them to go to high school helped me feel a lot better.”

The group also talked about how to help individuals they know are starting new adventures. New fourth-grade teacher Kaylee McCune said there’s a lot people of all ages can do to help.

“We can make sure they have a friend or someone to talk to and help them feel included,” McCune expressed.  “We can make sure they know they can talk to someone and have support.”

Reading and Learning Resources

Read Across SMSD is modeled after the national NEA Read Across America Program and led in partnership with NEA Shawnee Mission.

Here are Read Across America’s September titles, focused on embracing new beginnings:

Elementary: "El Cucuy is Scared Too!"

Story by Donna Barba Higuera

Pictures by Juliana Perdomo

Learn more by clicking here.


Middle Grade: "Pahua and the Soul Stealer"

By Lori M. Lee

Learn More by clicking here.


Adult: "Tigers, Not Daughters"

By Samantha Mabry

Learn More by clicking here

The links above provide activity ideas, discussion and reflective writing questions, related resources, and more titles to try for each age group.

Shawnee Mission School District librarians have also provided a list of similar book titles related to the theme. They can be found on this webpage

Read Across SMSD

Read Across SMSD is a celebration of reading across our community. We encourage reading for all ages across the SMSD in support of our district academic goals and our strategic plan belief that our community’s strength is derived from its diversity. Click here to find out more and participate in Read Across SMSD