We’re happy to share this guest post by (to our knowledge) the first person who studied our book, Great Peacemakers, as a middle school student and is now a teacher teaching it to their own middle school students! Thank you so much, Scott Hilliard, for inspiring the next generation!
Here’s Scott’s story:
When I was entering the seventh grade, the principal of my new North Carolina school assigned a book for summer reading. Of course, I was immediately turned off and annoyed that someone expected me to actually read over MY summer break! My parents and I bought the book, and I didn’t even touch it for the first few weeks. I hardly even knew the name!
As you can probably guess, this book was Great Peacemakers. At the time, I didn’t know what that meant or what it was. However, eventually I began reading and was instantly intrigued. I could relate to some of the people in the book, and I learned so much about real world issues.
As a young teenager, I started to feel like I could also make a change just like some of these peacemakers. Reading their stories and all they had to go through really hit home for me.
I never thought I would enjoy summer reading so much!
Once school started back, we didn’t use the book much. However, I was constantly rereading and researching more about the incredible people that were noted in Great Peacemakers.
Now, fast-forward about 10 years and I am beginning my career as a middle school teacher in the small Central American country of Belize. I was accepted to teach eighth grade subjects at a small island school. Of course, all the feelings hit me at once… nervous, excited, scared, and even a little nauseous. I had no idea what to teach these students!
After lots of research and advice from more experienced teachers, I formed my curriculum. When asked what books I would read with my class, Great Peacemakers popped up.
I could not think of a better book to teach reading combined with current events, world issues, peace, and social justice!
I thought of today’s world and how important it is to teach peace instead of violence. After researching this idea, I found out I wasn’t alone. Educators all around the world are teaching this book to our young people, and it’s working!
I had to share this story with the authors, Ken and Heather. I sent them a long email about my story and how I ended up in Belize. They quickly emailed back. Not only that, but they helped me find ways to teach this using interesting and engaging lesson plans. I mean, how awesome is that?
My students are loving learning about these peacemakers, and I hope one day they will become great peacemakers of the next generation. After all, they are our future.