One Book, One School, One Great Impact!

Illus. by W.W. Denslow; Courtesy of Project Gutenberg

Looking for creative ways to engage your entire school—across grades and content areas—in learning? Cathy Evans, director of libraries at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis, created a project that did just that. Even if you’re not lucky enough, like Evans was, to have extra money available, you’re sure to be inspired by this project. So sit back, give this a read, get inspired, and start thinking now how to adapt it for your own school!


What started as a gift grew into an idea and blossomed across the school community. In 2011, our school received a generous gift, in honor of a longtime friend of the school, to create an ongoing speakers series. The mission of this series is to bring to our campus thinkers and doers whose ideas challenge conventional wisdom and spark new thinking.

As the director of libraries and one of the people on campus with the most experience in bringing speakers to campus (mainly authors), I was put on the speakers series committee. At our first meeting we tossed around topic ideas and possible speakers, and finally settled on the topic of global hunger, food, and sustainability. Since we wanted to have speakers come to school in the fall, we had about six months to find dynamic speakers and build an exciting curriculum around the topic.

Linking Speakers with the Theme

The result was a unique pairing of internationally known activists in the field. Ido Leffler, the founder of the Yes To line of beauty products, Ellen Gustafson, co-founder of Feed Projects and founder of the 30 Project, and Dr. Cary Fowler, founder of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Leffler’s Yes To seed fund helps create gardens at schools located in impoverished areas across the country. Gustafson’s Feed Project takes simple burlap grain bags and turns them into chic accessories, funding school meals for children across the world. Dr. Fowler’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault deep inside a Norwegian mountain contains seed samples from crops around the world, more than 250 million seeds to date. Continue reading “One Book, One School, One Great Impact!”