Beanstack Black Voices Recipient: J.T. Moore Middle School

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Back in December, we announced the recipients of our Beanstack Black Voices Microgrants. ICYMI - check out that post for more information on the grants and recipients.


It’s been exciting for us to see some of the programs funded by the grants come to fruition. We’re grateful to the librarians and educators across the country for doing this important work. Today, we’re highlighting two Beanstack educators who are making it happen!

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Sarah Dark and Anna Bernstein, school librarian and ELA teacher at J.T. Moore Middle School in Tennessee, used their Beanstack Black Voices Microgrant to create an engaging experience for students, staff, and community members. Their program centered around the book Clean Getaway by Nic Stone. Clean Getaway is a modern day story of a boy and his grandmother on a road trip “through landmarks of the Civil Rights movement and the map they lay for contemporary race relations” (via Penguin Random House). The book has received high praise for its unconventional approach to exploring historical topics and how it is just as entertaining as it is informational.


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We are huge fans of communities reading together, so we love how Ms. Dark and Ms. Bernstein used a common book to help broach what can be such a difficult, though important, topic to discuss. They hosted a virtual visit with author Nic Stone, where students had the opportunity to share their thoughts and ask questions. The visit was “a highlight for many of [their] students who were ready to talk about the complex themes in Clean Getaway.” After the events of 2020 and the growing prevalence of racial injustice in the media, young people probably have more questions than ever about our society and its history – questions that aren’t easily answered by your average US History curriculum. At Zoobean, we’re glad to support students having safe spaces like this to discuss racism and other forms of injustice, and so grateful to the educators who create these spaces for our students.


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What was our favorite anecdote from the visit? A student asked, “Can you talk about the power of books?” Author Nic Stone had shared six ideas that display the power of books. And, as a bonus, you can click the tweet below to get Ms. Dark’s book recommendations related to each idea...


Six Ideas on Power of Books

  • Books give us an opportunity to experience someone else's life.
  • Books provide space for us to connect with other people.
  • They open our eyes to things we may not have known before.
  • They teach us how to position ourselves in the world in relation to other people.
  • They entertain and keep us uplifted.
  • They show us not only the world as it is, but as it could be.



Thanks again to J.T. Moore Middle School for sharing your story with us. You can follow along for more from Ms. Dark, Ms. Bernstein, and Nic Stone on the social profiles below. 


@jtmoorelibrary on Twitter

@jtmoorereads on Instagram

@MsB_MEd on Twitter

@nicstone on Instagram

@getnicced on Twitter

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