English teacher Heidi Gruber brought our vision of One Crystal to life in her Middle School classroom this spring. She invited faculty and staff from both the Upper and Middle Schools to read portions of the timeless yet highly complex novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, aloud to the class and share their personal experiences with the novel.
Heidi brought our community together through a collective love and understanding of how complicated and perhaps problematic this classic work of American literature is. Upper School English teacher Kate Tomatis told a lively story about her journey from being introduced to the novel as an 8th grader herself. She fell in love with the character of Atticus as a young girl, admiring his moral strength and clarity and likening him to her own father. Her relationship to the character and story has grown more complicated as she can now see how problematic the novel’s depiction of African American characters is, and questions the role the novel might play in assuaging white guilt. Emily Fawcett, an Upper School English teacher, shared fond memories of teaching the book in her first year as a teacher.
It is clear that everyone has some kind of relationship to To Kill A Mockingbird. With Ms. Gruber’s inclusion of people from all corners of Crystal in her presentation of the book to our 8th graders, she was able to effectively start what will inevitably be a lifelong process of returning to and interrogating the book’s themes and questions for our students.