Secretary Urena and Phil Frattaroli read with students
Secretary Urena and Phil Frattaroli read with students
Representative Aaron Michlewitz Discusses the reading with students
Representative Aaron Michlewitz Discusses the reading with students

In order to support the life-long enjoyment found in books, Brooke Charter School East Boston and the Eliot K-8 Innovation School, a public charter school and a public district school respectively, once again partnered together to jointly host an intergenerational book club. On Friday June 3, a cross-section of higher education officials and public leaders joined 50 7th and 8th grade students from both schools to discuss the memoir, A Chance in the World.

All book club participants, adults included, read A Chance in the World – An Orphan Boy, A Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home. As part of the evening, Steve Pemberton, author of A Chance in the World and Massachusetts native joined the book club via Skype for Q&A with students.

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Traci Griffith, Principal, Eliot K-8 Innovation School shared, “Every afternoon, we tell our students to go home and read for thirty minutes. Just half an hour of reading alone or with a parent can build a lifetime habit of reading. We were thrilled to once again work with the students and teachers of Brooke East Boston. Sharing our best practices helps all of us fulfill the mission of providing the best education for every child, every day in Boston! We are also honored that Mr. Pemberton generously made himself available to talk with our students about his life, his memoir, and his writing process.”

“Through collaboration, Brooke students were able to meet other young people and successful adults from across Boston who share a love of reading”, stated Molly Cole, Principal, Brooke Charter School East Boston. “The Brooke-Eliot Book Club allowed our students to see adults, beyond their teachers and parents, who find joy and continued growth in the pages of books. Similarly exciting, Brooke and Eliot middle school students had the chance to meet admission officers from top area colleges and universities who volunteered their time in our book club.”

Steve Pemberton, author of A Chance in the World shared, “Books for me were what the ocean is to the fearless explorer-deep and mysterious, boundless and soothing. As a child, I loved the smell of books, the feel of their weight in my hands, the rustle of the pages as I turned them, the magnificent illustrations on the covers that promised hidden treasures within. Today, reading remains an important part of my life whether it’s for relaxation, learning, or inspiration. I enjoyed being a part of the Brooke-Eliot Book Club and wish a similar opportunity had existed for me as a child. In one way, a book club involving students and adults together creates a space in which young people see a future version of themselves – one in which a love of books and reading continues.”

Steve Pemberton is currently Divisional Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for Walgreens, the first person to hold that responsibility in the company’s 114-year history. Steve is a graduate of Boston College, and now resides in Chicago with his wife Tonya and their three children.

Rahn Dorsey, Chief of Education for the City of Boston added, “I was excited to participate, with students and staff from the Eliot and Brooke schools, in the second annual inter-generational book club. Not only was this a fun way to build a love of learning and share great literature, but it was a way to build community. If you’ve ever been a part of a book club, you know that the conversation starts with the book and then leads to a set of discoveries of the aspirations, joys, fears and life experiences that we have in common with others. This continuing effort between the Eliot and Brooke schools is sure to stoke the schools’ shared passion for learning and create a relationship – indeed a community – between a Boston district school and a Boston charter school that puts the needs and interests of students at the center.”

The Brooke East Boston-Eliot Book Club has inspired a similar public charter-public district book club collaboration between Brooke Charter School Roslindale (another member of the Brooke charter network) and the Orchard Gardens K-8 BPS Pilot School.

Adult book club readers include:
• Jessica Acosta, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Tufts University
• MA State Senator Joseph Boncore
• Kerry Boyd, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, UMASS Boston
• Leykia Brill, Assistant Provost for Diversity in Enrollment Management, UMASS Amherst
• Cliff Chuang, Senior Associate Commissioner for Educational Options, MA DESE
• Ernani DeAraujo, Vice President & General Counsel, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center
• Turahn Dorsey, Chief of Education, City of Boston
• Phil Frattaroli, Owner, Ducali’s Restaurant
• Niki Johnson, Senior Admissions Officer, Harvard University
• Michael Lynch, Director of Undergraduate Admission, Emerson College
• John Mahoney, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Boston College
• Liz Marino, Executive Director, Summer Search
• MA State Representative Aaron Michlewitz
• Marina Offner, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Brandeis University
• Francisco Ureña, Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Services