F-M Zen to host second community Big Read

Fayetteville-Manlius High School’s 2019-20 community read was such a success that the faculty who organized it are planning a second “Big Read” that will kick off on Jan. 25.

Several years ago, high school staff members began coming together as F-M Zen, a group focused on supporting the overall well-being of students as students deal with increased anxiety and stress in their daily lives. For their first community read, the group chose “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success” by Julie Lythcott-Haims, which centers around supporting children in becoming independent and emotionally strong adults. 

For this second community read, they selected “Permission to Feel” by Marc Brackett, Ph.D., founder and director of the Yale University Center for Emotional Intelligence. F-M Zen members read Brackett’s book in summer 2020, and some district faculty also participated in an in-service opportunity offered by Yale University based on the book, according to Dana Pierce, school counselor and facilitator of F-M Zen. 

“This is the perfect time to come together as a community around this text,” Pierce said. “In our society, it seems as if the conversation about the importance of emotional health and wellness has opened up and become central to how we understand our own and others’ health and how we are impacted by and can use our feelings/emotions.”

The kickoff event will take place 6:30-8 p.m. Jan. 25 in the auditorium of F-M High School, 8201 E. Seneca Turnpike, Manlius. All community members are welcome to attend. Attendees are asked to RSVP and to wear a face mask and social distance. 

It is not necessary to have read the book to participate. The group plans to include some introductory small group work following an introduction to the book and the group’s rationale for choosing it for this year’s Big Read. They’re also looking into the possibility of livestreaming the event.

F-M Zen also plans to host two follow up meetings to the kickoff event:

Small Group Meeting/Discussion 1: March 1

  • 6:30-8 p.m.  F-M High School auditorium

Small Group Meeting/Discussion 2: April 5

  • 6:30-8 p.m. F-M High School auditorium

Big Read Feedback

The exit survey feedback F-M Zen received from the first Big Read participants was overall positive, according to Pierce.

  • 87% of respondents reported that they met their goals for participation;
  • 93% reported that the book read changed/empowered them; and 
  • 80% reported that they’d be interested in participating in a future book read (the remaining 20% chose “maybe” in terms of their interest in future book reads).  

Last time, the chosen primary goal for participation for 42% of respondents was, “To be a part of this community effort in exploring and shifting the culture in healthy ways,” and 87% said they achieved their goal.  

“For so long in education, and in our society, our emotional health has taken a back seat to things like academic achievement and personal ‘success.’ We all feel, we have emotions, and yet, many of us fail to embrace this very part of us that makes us most human.  Emotions tell us what to pay attention to and what to remember; in truth, emotions are essential for learning,” Pierce said. “This is a challenging time in our world, and perhaps it’s the perfect time to learn about and begin to practice these skills in support of our students’ social emotional learning, well-being and overall personal success.”