Back to school: Rose Cappelli and Jennifer Allen

August 28th, 2012

How do you “grow your spirit” — and your students’ — as you begin the school year? Rose Cappelli (Poetry Mentor Texts) and Jennifer Allen (A Sense of Belonging) share their inspirational thoughts. Don’t forge to leave a comment for a chance to win a free Stenhouse book at the end of our back-to-school series.

Rose Cappelli:

I love starting the year with picture books!  As I begin to meet with my small groups of struggling readers and writers, I like to think through books with them that illustrate the kind of work we will be doing together in the kind of environment I hope to create. Many are books I return to every year, and those students who may have heard them before greet them as friends and recall the lessons learned. Sometimes they make new discoveries, as if suddenly understanding what it all means. Some of my go-to favorites and the ideas within them are:

How Rocket Learned to Read  by Tad Hills– We will learn how the letters and words go together so that we can share lots of stories again and again and


Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr – There are lots of reasons to learn to read, but especially because you can do it anywhere.

Wolf! by Becky Bloom – Learning how to read requires practice and feedback. We will help each other do our best and do lots of reading.

Regina’s Big Mistake by Marissa Moss – It’s fine to share ideas because we all learn from each other. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – we learn from those, too.

What If? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger – What are the possibilities? Problems generally have more than one solution.

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean – “…because it’s all good.”

And for me? Just as my pink petunias begin to fade, I pull out Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden by Edith Pattou to remind myself that we all have different needs, and that everything and everyone requires patience and nurturing in order to grow.

Jennifer Allen:

I know it sounds cliché but I always look at the beginning of a school year as a fresh start, as another chance to refine the art of teaching. I think what excites me the most about the upcoming school year is the renewed opportunity to inspire and spark the inner passions of the teachers that I have the privilege of working with. I recently came across this quote in the book, It’s Not about the Coffee: Lessons of Putting People First from a Life at Starbucks, “Leaders have an obligation to grow people’s spirits for the good of the organization and for the good of the individual.”  What inspires me is working with passionate educators and helping grow spirits.

Entry Filed under: Leadership & Mentoring

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mrs. V  |  August 28th, 2012 at 7:31 am

    I love Jennifer’s quote and the reminder to focus on ourselves as well as thinking about how we positively impact colleagues.

  • 2. Michelle Nero  |  August 28th, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    A perfect back to school list of titles! Thanks for sharing Rose!

  • 3. Tracy  |  August 29th, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    I like how Rose attaches big picture thinking to the read alouds she chooses. Thanks for a list with some new ideas I can use.

  • 4. Susan  |  September 8th, 2012 at 7:27 am

    I like Rose’s choices of reads to start the year.
    Each read has a great message to start the year right for our students.
    Thank you for sharing. I am toying with the ideas on how I could weave these readings into my back to school first day activities.

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