Good Sam’s & Harris Academy Library Chosen for Pilot Program

Good Sam’s & Harris Academy Library Chosen for National Pilot Program

Brownsburg and Avon’s non-traditional high school and Good Samaritan are partnering together to engage in a season of dialogue and learning about the historic and contemporary effects of racism.

The library at Harris Academy has been selected as one of 25 libraries nationwide to take part in the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Great Stories Club, a reading and discussion program series that will engage underserved teens through reading and racial healing work. Good Samaritan already serves as a community support and resource for Harris Academy and will be the dialogue partner and external sponsor for the program.

“We’re excited to offer this unique book club experience to Harris students,” said Deb Samples (pictured left), a licensed media specialist and member of Good Samaritan who serves as Harris’ volunteer librarian and who applied for the grant.

“We are so grateful to Mrs. Samples for bringing this opportunity to Harris Academy,” said Lynn Lodwick, Harris Academy’s principal. “ So often our students feel isolated – they feel that no one else faces their challenges. These books will show our students that the challenges they face are not as uncommon as they believe. Our partnership with Good Samaritan Church brings so many positive experiences to our school. This is just one more.”

Retired from Wayne Township schools, Samples serves at Harris as part of Good Samaritan’s commitment to at-risk and underserved youth. Samples provides programming and library services for ALPHA students and Harris Academy students two days a week. Samples also leads the library’s Student Library Advisory Council and is helping students create the first Harris Academy yearbook.  

“Our congregation values and celebrates diversity and seeks to be a reconciling force for healing and inclusivity of all people in our community,” said Samples. “Applying for this grant was a natural fit for us, and we knew Harris students would welcome the opportunity to be great conversation partners.”

Samples, with support from Brownsburg High School Librarian Kim Lucas and members of Good Samaritan Church, will work with a small group of teens at Harris Academy to read and discuss three titles that explore the coming-of-age experience for youth from historically marginalized groups. The books — curated for the theme “Growing Up Brave on the Margins” — will include “Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal” by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona; “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas; and “MARCH: Book One” by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. The titles were selected to resonate with reluctant readers facing difficult challenges like detention, incarceration, addiction, academic probation, poverty, and homelessness.

The teens will also participate in a racial healing session, led by a facilitator familiar with the Kellogg Foundation’s TRHT framework and racial healing approach. As part of the grant, Harris Academy will receive copies of the books to gift to the program participants, as well as a programming stipend to cover expenses. Samples will travel to Chicago in April for a two-day training workshop.

The Great Stories Club is a part of the Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation efforts, a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism.

About Harris Academy

Harris Academy is a mastery-based small learning community that serves Brownsburg High School (BHS) and Avon High School (AHS) students, typically juniors and seniors, in a non-traditional environment.

About Good Samaritan Episcopal Church

Good Samaritan Episcopal Church is a community of open-minded Christians who seek to do what Jesus taught: to love all people without exception and to serve people in whatever need they have. The congregation is a church without walls and meets in places where it can serve and be with its community. You can learn more at churchthatserves.org

About the ALA Great Stories Club

A project of the American Library Association (ALA), the Great Stories Club (GSC) is a reading and discussion program model that targets underserved, troubled teen populations. Launched in 2006, the GSC has received funding from Oprah’s Angel Network, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ford Foundation, bringing literary reading and discussion programming to more than 800 libraries and 30,000 young adults. The project seeks to inspire teens to consider “big questions” about the world around them and their place in it, affecting how they view themselves as thinkers and creators; establish important connections between underserved youth, their public library and community support agencies; and contribute to improved literacy and changed, positive attitudes toward reading.