Teacher of the Year Blog

  • Resources Can Help Tackle Student Bullying

    Posted by Kathleen Rauth at 10/16/2017

    Oct. 16, 2017

    “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”  –  John Holmes, author


    October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and while strides have been made to put an end to bullying, the statistics are still staggering.


    According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2016), 1 out of every 5 students has reported being bullied. Even more challenging is that other studies show that more than 60 percent of students do not report bullying. Students also face cyberbullying, with 1 in 3 middle/high schoolers reporting a cyber threat and more than 50 percent of teens reporting being bullied online. 


    In the face of these statistics, it can seem like an overwhelming problem. The key is to help build a network of support for our students. Having a peer or a trusted adult to talk with can make a difference. We must help all of our students develop empathy and an understanding of the importance of speaking up and lending support when they see someone being bullied.


    To that end, I offer a list of some of the many books and websites available to help keep the lines of communication open between our students and to provide support for conversations about the impact of bullying.


    If you want more help, please reach out to the tremendous social workers throughout Indianapolis Public Schools. Each day they work to help our kids navigate the many social/emotional challenges that arise. Some IPS schools also have school-based support available through Adult & Child Health, Midtown Community Mental Health and also Unified Solutions.



    • “The Bully Blockers Club,” by Teresa Bateman
    • “One,” Kathryn Otoshi
    • “Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others,” by Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy
    • “Secret of the Peaceful Warrior,” by Dan Millman
    • “My Secret Bully,” Trudy Ludwig
    • “Just Kidding,” Trudy Ludwig
    • “Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon,” Patty Lovell
    • “Each Kindness,” Jacqueline Woodson
    • “Nobody Knew What to Do: A Story about Bullying,” Becky Ray McCain
    • “Mr. Lincoln’s Way,” Patricia Polacco
    • “Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship,” Edward Hemingway
    • “The Sissy Duckling,” Harvey Fierstein



    • “Wonder,” by R.J. Palacio (The movie based on this book will be in theaters starting November 17, 2017.)
    • “Bully,” Patricia Polacco
    • “Wolf Hollow,” Lauren Wolk
    • “Garvey’s Choice,” Nikki Grimes
    • “Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth,” Jeff Anderson
    • “Girl in the Well is Me,” Karen Rivers
    • “Larger-Than-Life Lara,” by Dandi Daley Mackall
    • “The Liberation of Gabriel King,” K.L. Going
    • “The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: Spirit Week Showdown,” Crystal Allen
    • “Confessions of a Former Bully,” Trudi Ludwig
    • “Blackbird Fly,” Erin Entrada Kelly
    • “Real Friends,” Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham


    • We Want You to Know: Kids Talk About Bullying,” Deborah Ellis
    • “Bullying and Me: Schoolyard Stories,” Ouisie Shapiro and Steven Vote
    • “Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain,” Trevor Romain
    • “Say Something,” Peggy Moss
    • “Letters to a Bullied Girl: Messages of Healing and Hope,” Olivia Gardner, with Emily and Sarah Buder


    • The Skin I’m In,” Sharon Flake
    • “Playground,” 50 Cent
    • “Chess Rumble,” G. Neri
    • “George,” Alex Gino
    • “The Bully,” Paul Langan
    • “The Outsiders,” S.E. Hinton
    • “Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass,” Meg Medina
    • “Eleanor & Park,” Rainbow Rowell
    • “Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories,” edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones


    Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center

    Stomp Out Bullying

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  • Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month through Literature, Events

    Posted by Kathleen Rauth at 9/8/2017

    “The Latina in me is an ember that blazes forever.”
    – Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor


    Every year our nation celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 through October 15. It is a time to pay tribute to all of the generations of Hispanic Americans who have contributed to our county and to our communities.


    As of 2015, the United States is the second largest Spanish speaking country, second only to Mexico. And one quarter of Indianapolis Public Schools students are Hispanic, according to the Indiana Department of Education.


    As a community of teachers and learners, we celebrate the narratives of our Hispanic students and are enriched by their cultural traditions and life stories. Whether a student has recently arrived in Indianapolis, or comes from a family with a long history in our city, each becomes a part of the diverse mosaic that is IPS. We are rich in partnerships with organizations such as La Plaza and the Indiana Latino Institute. Their efforts to promote Hispanic culture and strengthen the education and opportunities of our families and students make them vital partners in our schools.


    Two special events highlighting Hispanic culture are happening in September.  On Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., FIESTA Indianapolis will be held at the American Legion Mall.  On Sunday, Sept. 17, the Indianapolis Zoo will host a Hispanic Heritage Fiesta. Additionally, the Indianapolis Museum of Art houses a permanent collection of Ancient Art of the Americas, which is always fascinating to visit.


    How else can we increase our understanding and appreciation of this community? Books, of course! Authors from throughout the Spanish-speaking diaspora have created books that provide readers a window into the lives of their vibrant communities. They also provide mirrors for those who are already part of this rich community. While the numbers of books written from or about the Hispanic experience remain disproportionately small, the number is slowly increasing. The Pura Belpré Award and the Tomás Rivera Award have helped to shine a spotlight on Latinx authors and illustrators. Blogs such as “Vamos a Leer” and “De Colores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children”  can help you discover exciting new titles. Here is a list of authors whose books will be a great start in exploring the richness of Hispanic America. This is by no means a complete list, but I hope this will start you, your children, students and friends on a journey of discovery. ¡Feliz Lectura!


    Picture Book Authors and Illustrators:

    • Jorge Argueta
    • Monica Brown
    • Isabel Campoy
    • Claudia Dávila
    • Lulu Delacre
    • David Díaz
    • Margarita Engle
    • Angela Dominguez
    • Xavier Garza
    • Yuyi Morales
    • Pat Mora
    • Duncan Tonatiuh



    • Monica Brown
    • Christina Diaz Gonzalez
    • Jacqueline Jules
    • Claudia Guadalupe Martinez
    • Guadalupe Garcia McCall
    • Juana Medina
    • Laura Resau
    • Pam Muñoz Ryan
    • Gary Soto
    • Jennifer Torres


    Young Adult Fiction:

    • Socorro Acioli
    • Marjorie Agosin
    • Skila Brown
    • David Bowles
    • Angela Cervantes
    • Zoraida Córdov
    • Alexandra Diaz
    • Xavier Garza
    • Meg Medina
    • Sonia Manzano
    • Daniel José Older
    • Matt de la Peña
    • Benjamin Alire Sáenz
    • Francisco X. Stork


    High School:

    • Isabel Allende
    • Julia Alvarez
    • Rudolpho Anaya
    • Sandra Cisneros
    • Paulo Coehlo
    • Gabriel García Márquez
    • Junot Díaz
    • Esmeralda Santiago
    • Pablo Neruda

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  • The Power of Reading is a Global Affair

    Posted by Kathleen Rauth at 8/25/2017

    “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.”

     –Kofi Annan, Ghanaian diplomat, former secretary general of the U.N.


    Why do we read? What is the importance of reading? Our first thoughts may be “for pleasure, for information.” These questions, however, beg a deeper answer, I believe.


    As we look at the history of our nation and of communities across the globe, we see that access to education has been a catalyst for engagement in the power structures around the world. When you limit a group’s ability to read and write, you remove from their lives a tool which gives them a deeper understanding of their place in the world and a shared experience of what it means to be human. Author C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know that we are not alone.” 


    Helping our students understand that there are individuals in all countries taking extraordinary measures to bring books into the hands of children can be a powerful opportunity to connect them to the importance of reading in their own lives. Thankfully, there are many books and websites that help our children understand the history of these efforts and also those activists who are working now to get books into the hands of children everywhere.


    If you want to start with history, you may wish to look at the accounts of the burning of the great Library of Alexandria, Egypt. Book burnings have impacted all corners of our world. Mental Floss has a great article that highlights 11 book burning stories. Talk with your children and young adults about what was lost with each one of these events. Also look at how the youth of Alexandria protected their new library when they feared it might be under attack again.


    Your next step might be to look at the rich history of the libraries of Timbuktu, Mali, and how one man’s efforts became the catalyst for the preservation of these bastions of knowledge.


    As you move forward in time, you can explore the efforts of individuals who have helped to increase literacy rates in their communities. The following books would be great jumping off points for these explorations:


    • “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,” by Malala Yousafzai.
    • “Alia’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq,” by Mark Alan Stamaty.
    • “Waiting for the Biblioburro,” by Monica Brown.
    • “Librarian on the Roof! A True Story,” by M.G. King and Stephen Gilpin.
    • “My Librarian is a Camel: How Books are Brought to Children Around the World,” by Margriet Ruurs.
    • “Steamboat School,” by Deborah Hopkinson.


    Perhaps you would like to do some fundraising for children in need, but tie it to reading in your own lives. There are countless organizations raising funds and materials through community and religious groups in the area. Here are three links to national organizations you might want to investigate:


    Some of my colleagues at Indianapolis Public Schools have put their concerns for world literacy into direct action and formed Heart in Education Teacher Outreach (HETO). Each year, Indianapolis teachers bring resources and training to teachers and students in Honduras. They always welcome support.


    Finally, if you would like to start locally, how about visiting or building a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? City Lab highlights a list of spectacular Little Free Libraries that were created here in Indianapolis. Little Free Library is a website filled with great information, including how to build your own.


    Each morning, the Center for Inquiry Schools recite our mission statement, which includes a promise to be “…socially responsible contributors to a changing global society.” Reading is a central part of this mission. As Hazel Robinson, an assistant editor of the American Library Association’s Booklist magazine says: “Reading takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.” 


    I hope these resources can help as you celebrate the freedom that learning to read brings our own students, as well the importance of supporting those who do not yet share in this freedom.


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  • Diversity is Paramount for 2018 IPS Teacher of the Year

    Posted by Kathleen Rauth at 7/28/2017

    July 28, 2017


    “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”— Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher and writer.


    Every person in our city has a story. It is the strength of these collective narratives that creates the tapestry that is Indianapolis. The 30,000 students and families of Indianapolis Public Schools are at the very heart of our community, the place where all of these narratives come together in a shared vision of success, growth and fulfillment. Each story is important, and every story gives us a chance to see how we are connected to a larger global community.


    As the first media specialist to receive the honor of Teacher of the Year, it is my plan to use this platform to encourage us all to become familiar with the stories of our community, to broaden our understanding of our world through story and to highlight some of the organizations in our community that help enrich our student’s lives.


    It is my hope that through this blog I can provide resources to the IPS community as we all work to broaden our reading lives and become more fully part of our 21st century global society. I encourage you to join me on this journey of story.


    I know that we can only start where we are, and that every step on the path is a chance to shape our future. My 30 years as an educator has shaped my every step.


    Living in Chicago for almost 30 years and working with families and students from across the diaspora helped me to expand my view of the world. Teaching in California helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the world of my predominantly Hispanic students. Teaching in schools where my student population was entirely African-American helped open my eyes to the struggles and amazing successes of this community. I am thankful for every honest conversation I had with parents, teachers and children, for in the end they are my greatest teachers. Oh, and books. Books, books, books, books!


    What kind of librarian would I be if I did not celebrate reading as a portal to understanding?  Our students are members of a rapidly expanding global community, with instantaneous connection to every country in the world. The single greatest gift we can give our children is to share with them the knowledge of other cultures, traditions, religions and life experiences. We must also help them to read about their own culture and community, help them to build a strong sense of self-worth and identity.


    It can be a challenge sometimes to find culturally diverse narratives. You may find that your child is struggling with reading and not engaged in reading for pleasure. Without spending too much time on data, research has shown that third-graders who are not reading on grade level are four times more likely to drop out of high school. These children may well have academic challenges, but research has also shown that the more narratives we can provide that reflect the life of the child, the more likely they are to engage in reading.


    It is my hope that we can work together to see ALL of our students excited and engaged with reading. Scholar Rudine Sims Bishop coined the phrase “Books as Windows and Mirrors.” She encourages us to read books that mirror our life, as well as provide windows to experiences outside of our own.


    The links below will take you to some great starting points as you join with us to see all of our students catch the reading bug this year! Let’s take those first steps together, or keep walking down the path if we are already on the way.


    Encouraging a love for reading and learning about different cultures is just a click away:

    • Anti-Defamation League: Books Matter


    • Read Aloud 15 Minutes


    • What Do We Do All Day?


    • 10 Ways to Encourage Your High-Schooler to Read


    • 17 Ways to Keep Your Middle Schooler Turning the Pages



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