March 23, 2021
Category: General Info

What CIS Staff Are Reading in 2021

It’s National Reading Month and a time when we engage in the annual ritual of asking: What are you reading? Here’s what some Communities In Schools (CIS) staff are reading …

[Note: Book titles link to the Indie Bookstore Finder. Should a book peek your interest, this allows you to learn more and easily obain the book from one of our fabulous independent bookstores.]


I’m currently reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The author is a biologist with Potowatomi roots and has the poetic gift of bringing the natural world to its fullest height through her love and connection to her surroundings. It’s the perfect book to take in as we wake up from a long COVID-y winter.

Angela Van Heest, Site Coordinator, Parkwood Upjohn Elementary School

I am currently reading Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen, Reclaiming Community: Race and the Uncertain Future of Youth Work by Bianca Bladridge and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. All of these books are helping me think with others about the way that racism and antiracism have shaped my world and each are calling me to be critical of the way I show up in the world.

Cara Weiler, Associate Director of Site Services

I am reading The Refugees written by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Through short stories, Nguyen explores life after the complications of war, particularly the Vietnam War. This book is making me think deeply about what it means to survive, especially since my own parents came to the US as immigrants.

Jane Asumadu, CIS After School Coordinator, Linden Grove

I’m reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. I just started it. There is a workbook that goes with the book so I’ll be doing that too.

Phillip Hegwood, CIS After School Coordinator, Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts

I am reading Reclaiming Community: Race and the Uncertain Future of Youth Work by Bianca J. Baldridge as part of a CIS staff book club. I am also reading All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. For the last year, I have been reading books to help me take a deeper look at youth of color so I can continue learning, growing, and better understanding our student population.

Nicky Aiello, Volunteer Services Coordinator

I am currently reading The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan.

Jen DeWaele, CIS Site Coordinator, Woodward School for Technology and Research

I am personally reading Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and also for my book club (The Lovely Ladies of Literature), we just finished reading The Unspoken by Ian K. Smith and are now about to start reading You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar.

Artrella Cohn, Senior Director of Community Engagement and Student Investment

For me personally, I am currently reading Above the Line written by Urban Meyer and Wayne Coffey.

Montrell Baker, Senior Site Coordinator, Loy Norrix High School

I am currently reading The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk. I’m loving this book and I’m learning so much about attachment theory, neuroscience, and how our brains and bodies are affected by trauma. The writing is really accessible and it’s been interesting to discuss with friends!

Sara Lonsberry, Basic Needs Coordinator

I am currently reading The Soul of America The Battle For Our Better Angels written by Jon Meacham. It’s helping me get some perspective on today’s disruptive times.

Lauren Smirniotopoulos, CIS Site Coordinator, King Westwood Elementary School

I am re-reading No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. With a six year old and two year old, I need all the help I can get. I currently don’t have a lot of time to read, so I pick this up when I can to refresh and keep reminding myself the “whys” and “tips” while raising littles.

Felicia Lemons, Development & Marketing Project Manager

I am currently reading Glassblowing written by Mara Rockliff. A beautiful book to read about the shape of glasses and how they look nice.

Khadejah Al Muhaisin, CIS Site Coordinator, Arcadia Elementary School

I’m just finishing up two excellent books. Both have “Yellow House” in their titles. The Yellow House on the Corner is the first collection of poems by Rita Dove. A mix of history and personal poems, they are quite gripping. The other, The Yellow House, is a moving memoir written by Sarah M. Broom.

Jennifer Clark, Special Projects & Initiatives


Stay tuned to Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids and find out what some CIS volunteers are reading.



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