Gilman’s long-standing Mentoring Program is coming up with new ways to connect its Upper School mentors and their Lower or Middle School mentees so that they may continue to come together for support and fellowship. One such meetup for the 40 pairs of students is a virtual visit from award-winning author-illustrator Chris Soentpiet (pronounced “soon-peet”) at the end of January. His work has been featured in the New York Times and USA Today, among other publications, and reflects his interest in people, history, and culture.
Last month, mentors wrote personal messages that were delivered to their mentees along with a copy of “Amazing Faces,” authored by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Mr. Soentpiet. Through its 16 poems by a variety of impressive writers, the book explores themes of similarities and differences, respect, pride, identity, self-esteem, and adversity. The poetry collection alongside intricate, photo-like images was chosen for its appeal to readers of all ages and its invitation to discuss both the written and visual material to different depths.
One of the book’s poems is authored by Carole Boston Weatherford, a Baltimore native who, with her illustrator son, virtually visited some Lower School classrooms in mid-January. The boys who take part in the Mentoring Program and have read “Amazing Faces” were already familiar with some of her work.
Lee & Low Books, a company committed to publishing diverse books that are about everyone, for everyone, says that the poems are “brought to life in diverse and detailed faces that reveal the universal feelings we all share...invite us to experience their world, understand their lives, and find the connections that bring us together.” In a time when we are all seeking connection, and for a program that works to meaningfully connect Gilman students across different divisions for a unique relational experience, the book seems aptly selected.
The Mentoring Program has more events in the works for the coming months, including ones that will give participants hands-on, virtually connected experiences in culinary and visual arts.