If you've been reading this site for a while, you know that each winter after the season ends I ask my readers to think about how much value they've gained from reading my work here over the course of the previous year. It's like any other pledge drive, I suppose, except that instead of asking for money, I ask for books.
Writing about Stanford football is something I do for fun, but my true passion is teaching. I graduated from Stanford in June of 1991, and less than six months later I found myself teaching English to a class of seventh graders. It didn't take long to realize I had found my dream job, and twenty-six years later I'm still doing the same thing, still loving every minute.
One of the best parts of my job is sharing my love of reading. Many of my students are already voracious readers when they come to me in September, and it's a pleasure to expose them to new books which expand their horizons and challenge their growing minds, but in addition to the high-achieving students who populate my accelerated classes, I've always taught at least one class with the lowest readers in the school. These are the students who have benefited the most from the generosity of my readers. Whether it's been class sets of The Hunger Games or Harry Potter or Wonder, your donations have allowed me to provide materials that our school's budget simply cannot. Even after all these years, few things in teaching can compare to the joy of watching these struggling readers transform. Most come to me having never read a book before, and many still return to borrow books even after moving on to high school.
Next week I'll begin a new challenge, teaching a group of at-risk boys in our school's new Male Academy. This is a district wide program focusing on under-represented boys, most of whom face socio-economic barriers that make school a challenge. Without intervention, many of these boys will struggle for the rest of their lives.
I'd like this group of boys to begin their journey with me by reading The Pact, the story of three teenagers who grew up in the projects of Newark, New Jersey, and survived by making a pact to stay out of trouble and stay focused on their education. Today all three are doctors. It's an inspirational story, and I hope my students see themselves and all that their futures might hold.
So if you found some value in this site over the past twelve months, and if you'd like to help me help these boys, just click on this link and head over to my Amazon Wish List. In addition to The Pact, you'll also find dozens of other titles that I'd love to add to my classroom library. With just a single book, you can change a student's life.