Pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade students across the district will be more assured of finding books in classroom libraries that both appeal to them and reflect their cultures and ethnicity thanks to the LEF Eye See Me Grant. The $12,000 grant was made in response to a survey that, among other questions, asked students what schools could do additionally to tailor the curriculum to their personal interests and backgrounds. 

“Students have been excited to see all the new books we have added to our reading choices.  It's great to hear them talking about which books they want to read next and knowing that every student will find a book they truly want to read,” says Greg Schmitz, English Language Arts teacher at Ladue Middle School.

“In my role teaching English as a Second Language," says Jennifer Reisenmy, "it is fundamental for me to use books that represent a wide variety of cultures and communities.  I strive to utilize books that provide both windows and mirrors for my students, meaning books where students can see themselves reflected and books that help them learn more about others.  The books I received through the Eye See Me LEF grant help me show students that their cultural legacy deserves to be valued and protected.”

Many of the new books were purchased at Eye See Me, a locally owned store in University City that carries products, programs and services that help excite children—especially African-American children—about reading. In collaboration with LEF and a team of teachers from across the district, Jeffrey and Pamela Blair, co-owners of Eye See Me, conducted book fairs in the pre-k to eighth-grade buildings so teachers could peruse a wide selection of books and then add those they liked best to a “wish list.” The “wish list” then became the shopping list used to purchase the new books. 

This LEF grant supports ongoing district-initiated efforts to continually review programs, activities and curricula to ensure that they consider and are responsive to the wide diversity of our school community.