Equity in Curriculum

  • Southern York County takes great pride in the work we are doing to infuse equity and develop empathy into the curriculum. We look at our curriculum as a way to help students learn about differences that make us all unique.

    Our English Language Arts courses allow students to develop effective reading and writing skills, while infusing equity and social emotional learning into lessons. The use of new children’s literature and novels help to build this understanding and develop acceptance of one another and celebrate uniqueness. We celebrate all students and are working hard to ensure that all students are able to see themselves in the stories that we read.

    Our Social Studies courses examine historical perspective to build understanding and to help students recognize different perspectives. Through courageous conversations in the classroom and the approval of new literature that looks at equity through many different lenses, we challenge ourselves and our students to continue to grow in our understanding. Our teachers have been using civil discourse in our classes to provide opportunities to explore differences of opinion, build understanding of differing perspectives, and develop empathy for one another. Some of the new children’s literature and novels recently approved are:

    Elementary School

    The Colors of Us  

    The Color of Us by Karen Katz
    Seven-year-old Lena is going to paint a picture of herself. She wants to use brown paint for her skin. But when she and her mother take a walk through the neighborhood, Lena learns that brown comes in many different shades.


    Those Shoes  

    Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts, Illustrated by Noah Z. Jones
    All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for "want," just "need," when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend - are worth more than the things he wants.


    The Other Side  

    The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
    Clover's mom says it isn't safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship and get around the grown-ups' rules by sitting on top of the fence together.


    Front Desk  

    Front Desk by Kelly Yang
    Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number one: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, 10-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. Number two: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. Number three: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? It will take all of Mia's courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?


    I Am Malala  

    I Am Malala How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafzai, Patricia McCormick
    I Am Malala is the memoir of a remarkable teenage girl who risked her life for the right to go to school. Raised in a changing Pakistan by an enlightened father from a poor background and a beautiful, illiterate mother from a political family, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. I Am Malala tells her story of bravery and determination in the face of extremism, detailing the daily challenges of growing up in a world transformed by terror.

    Written for her peers with critically-acclaimed author Patricia McCormick, this important book is about the value of speaking out against intolerance and hate. It's a message of hope from one girl who dreams of education for every girl in every country.


    A Night Divided  

    A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen
    From New York Times best-selling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west. With the rise of the Berlin Wall, 12-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother, and her brother, Fritz, live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can't help herself.

    She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors, and her friends are prisoners in their own city. But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance.

    Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?


    A Long Walk to Water  

    A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park
    The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.


    Refugee  

    Refugee by Alan Grantz
    Gratz presents three interrelated stories about surviving. The tales center on children and their families who are driven from their homes by war, violence, and unrest. Josef must leave Nazi-controlled Germany with his mother, his sister, and his mentally broken father (just returned to them from Auschwitz). He sails across the Atlantic Ocean on the ill-fated St. Louis only to be turned away from Cuba and returned to Europe. Isabel and her family live in Cuba and escape on a makeshift raft during the exodus in the 1990s. They flee the repression and poverty of Fidel Castro's rule. Mahmoud, a Syrian boy, and his family seek refuge from the ongoing war and violence in their home city of Aleppo. They board a dinghy in order to cross the Aegean sea from Turkey to Greece. All the entries share elements of hardship, fear, and trauma and stress the power of love, family, and incredible sacrifice. Gratz, who is known for well-written and well-researched historical fiction, doesn't disappoint. His latest is timely and moving. VERDICT This compelling novel will help young people make sense of today's refugee crisis.

    Middle School

    Long Way Down  

    Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
    Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds. Will’s brother is killed by gun violence and Will heads out taking an elevator to avenge his brother’s death. As the elevator travels the “long way down”, Will encounters people from his brother’s past who tell him a bigger story about how his brother died, making his examine his own life decisions.


    Monster  

    Monster by Walter Dean Myers
    This New York Times bestselling novel from acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers tells the story of Steve Harmon, a teenage boy in juvenile detention and on trial. Presented as a screenplay of Steve's own imagination, and peppered with journal entries, the book shows how one single decision can change our whole lives.


    Stolen into Slavery  

    Stolen into Slavery: The True Story of Solomon Northup, Free Black Man by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin
    The true story behind the acclaimed movie 12 Years a Slave, this book is based on the life of Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York who was captured in the United States and sold into slavery in Louisiana.

    High School

    Just Mercy  

    Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight for Justice by Bryan Stevenson
    In this very personal work - acclaimed lawyer and social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson offers a glimpse into the lives of the wrongfully imprisoned and his efforts to fight for their freedom.

    Stevenson's story is one of working to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society - the poor, the wrongly convicted, and those whose lives have been marked by discrimination and marginalization. Through this adaptation, young people of today will find themselves called to action and compassion in the pursuit of justice.


    Henrietta Lacks  

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
    From a single, abbreviated life grew a seemingly immortal line of cells that made some of the most crucial innovations in modern science possible. And from that same life, and those cells, Rebecca Skloot has fashioned in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks a fascinating and moving story of medicine and family, of how life is sustained in laboratories and in memory. Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could survive--even thrive--in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio. Meanwhile, Henrietta's family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution--and her cells' strange survival--left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion. For a decade, Skloot doggedly but compassionately gathered the threads of these stories, slowly gaining the trust of the family while helping them learn the truth about Henrietta, and with their aid she tells a rich and haunting story that asks the questions, Who owns our bodies? And who carries our memories?


    Curious Incident  

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon
    The fifteen-year-old narrator of this ostensible murder mystery is even more emotionally remote than the typical crime-fiction shamus: he is autistic, prone to fall silent for weeks at a time, and unable to imagine the interior lives of others. This might seem a serious handicap for a detective, but when Christopher stumbles on the dead body of his neighbor's poodle, impaled by a pitchfork, he decides to investigate. Christopher understands dogs, whose moods are as circumscribed as his own ("happy, sad, cross and concentrating"), but he's deaf to the nuances of people, and doesn't realize until too late that the clues point toward his own house and a more devastating mystery. This original and affecting novel is a triumph of empathy; whether describing Christopher's favorite dream (of a virus depopulating the planet) or his vision of the universe collapsing in a thunder of stars, the author makes his hero's severely limited world a thrilling place to be.


    Last Lecture  

    The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
    A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

    When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave--"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"--wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.


    Fences  

    Fences by August Wilson
    Troy Maxson is a strong man, a hard man. He has had to be to survive. Troy Maxson has gone through life in an America where to be proud and black is to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the 1950s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960s, a spirit that is changing the world Troy Maxson has learned to deal with the only way he can, a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son, he understands less and less. This is a modern classic, a book that deals with the impossibly difficult themes of race in America, set during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s.


    I Beat the Odds  

    I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind SIde and Beyond by Michael Oher
    Looking back on how he went from being a homeless child in Memphis to playing in the NFL, Michael talks about the goals he had to break out of the cycle of poverty, addiction, and hopelessness that trapped his family. Eventually, he grasped onto football as his ticket out and worked hard to make his dream into a reality. With his adoptive family, the Touhys, and other influential people in mind, he describes the absolute necessity of seeking out positive role models and good friends who share the same values to achieve one's dreams. Sharing untold stories of heartache, determination, courage, and love, I Beat the Odds is an incredibly rousing tale of one young man's quest to achieve the American dream.