Read Across SMSD: Promote Healing and Growth

Read Across SMSD November Promote Healing and Growth (Hosted by NEA Shawnee Mission, SMSD, the Foundation).
Shawnee Mission School District

November’s Read Across SMSD theme is about promoting healing and growth. Each book focuses on hope in the recovery that can happen because of the healing power of family and community.

All of the books selected this month also relate to American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. The elementary title - “Powwow Day” - tells the story of River, a young girl who has been fighting illness. When it comes time for her tribe’s powwow, she is inspired by watching her family dance.

Heather Ousley, SMSD Board of Education, joined members of the executive board of Merriam Park’s Leadership Lighthouse team to interview two special guests. Dr. Alex Red Corn, assistant professor at Kansas State University and a citizen of the Osage nation and Jancita Warrington, who is Anishinaabe and executive director for the Office of Native American Affairs for the State of Kansas, joined the students to talk about the book and about Native American culture. 

Click here to see a video.

Relating back to the book-of-the-month, sixth-grader Sophia Dubois asked Dr. Red Corn and Warrington how they would describe a powwow to someone who has never seen one before. They both shared how ceremonial gatherings and powwows can look different based on where they take place and who attends. They also discussed how gatherings help families and communities connect.

“These gatherings are like a big family reunion where everyone comes together, celebrates, eats, sings, and dances to keep tribal traditions alive,” Warrington shared. “Tribal cultures are constantly practiced and taught with each generation to assure our cultures not only survive but thrive.”

Chloe Wilson, sixth grader, asked if there are ways students can learn more about powwows and Native American heritage.

Dr. Red Corn shared that the Osage nation has language apps that can be downloaded to hear how people have traditionally communicated. He also highlighted that books like “Jingle Dancer” by Cynthia Leitich Smith or “Bowwow Powwow” by Brenda J. Child are great ways to learn more.

The best way to learn about a powwow is to attend one, Warrington shared, and there are multiple local, public powwows students can attend. She highlighted powwows hosted by Johnson County Community College, the Kansas City Indian Center, and Haskell Indian Nations University, which hosst powwows throughout the year. She also suggested students attend the KU Indigenous Dance and Cultures Festival held at the University of Kansas in the spring.

Shawnee Mission thanks Ousley, Dr. Red Corn, Warrington and all of the members of the Merriam Park executive Lighthouse Leadership team:  Sophia Dubois, Chloe Wilson, Liliana Jimenez, Corey Davis, Stella Shapley, and Phebe Strigin.

November Reading and Learning Resources

Read Across SMSD is modeled after the national Read Across America program and is led in partnership with NEA-Shawnee Mission. Access to books for Shawnee Mission students is made possible through the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation.

Here are the Read Across America November titles, encouraging readers to “Promote Healing and Growth.”
“Powwow Day”
By Traci Sorell

Click here to learn more.

“Healing of the Water Monster”
By Brian Young

Click here to learn more 

“Living Nations, Living Words: An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry”
By Joy Harjo

Click here to learn more.

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

The November 2022 Read Across SMSD web page also features resources for learning more, which were suggested by Dr. Alex Red Corn and Jancita Warrington.

Click here to find out more and participate in Read Across SMSD. Post your participation on social media using #ReadAcrossSMSD.

Read Across SMSD November Promote Healing and Growth (Hosted by NEA Shawnee Mission, SMSD, the Foundation).