For Black History Month, North Park Montessori principal Dan Morse is doing a short video every day where he reads from either “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” or “Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History” (both by Vashti Harrison) and posts the video to the school’s Facebook page.

He’s also starting to recruit his scholars to do the readings with one already having taken up the challenge and more to come. And some of the school’s teachers show the videos during the day as a read-aloud.

Morse said the project began in February 2021, when GRPS was still virtual as a district, and he and his wife were given the two books for their then-newborn daughter.

“Since we were still virtual at that time as a district, I thought it would be a great opportunity to have some connection with our families and also to celebrate Black History Month as a school, especially when we were out,” he recalled. “I wanted to restart that this year as one of my priorities at North Park is ensuring that all scholars feel a sense of belonging here at school.”

Morse rotates each day between the two books and said he chose them not only because they were given to him but also because both celebrate Black excellence and history. That they both also are at a reading level that different ages can appreciate and learn from is an extra bonus.

Halfway through Black History Month, the reaction to the daily readings from scholars, staff, parents and more has been great, Morse added.

“I have gotten responses from families that they are thankful we are intentionally celebrating Black History Month this year at North Park,” he said. “I hope it helps our scholars of color see themselves in the school programming, because too often our history is white-washed, and these stories are not celebrated.”

And though the percentage of North Park Montessori scholars who are Black is relatively small, Morse said the readings can still speak to all his scholars.

For me I think as a society we need to celebrate all our diverse cultures,” he said. “I think that this small project helps educate all our scholars about the great achievements of Black people throughout our history. Everyone should be able to see themselves in these awesome stories of persistence, bravery and strong will.”