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Tucson principal starts book club to better connect with students

Posted at 6:53 AM, Oct 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-02 09:53:43-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - University High School principal Amy Cislak was a teacher before stepping into an administration role, and while getting the promotion was a dream, there was something about her old job she missed.

"I wanted another opportunity to reach out to more student, I wanted more students to have an opportunity to tell me, the principal, what's working, what's not working and share their thoughts," said Cislak.

In order to do that, Cislak started a book club.

The idea first came to her after a student she was talking to picked up the 'Brave not Perfect' book sitting on Cislak's desk and asked her why students weren't also reading it.

"This looks really good, why aren't we reading it as students and for the first time I thought, oh I don't know, we should do something like this," said Cislak.

So Cislak asked students if joining a book club, led by her, is something they'd be interested in joining.

Some students weren't too convinced by the idea at first.

"When I originally heard about it I thought it would be a drag because it would be on top of all my other activities," said Ava Galbraith, a junior at University High School.

However, eventually plenty of students came around to the idea.

"I thought, oh wow I'd get to know my administrator on a personal level like the principal, that's so cool," said Milena Fera, a sophomore at University High School.

During their first meeting Cislak talked to club about what they had read in the book, but spent a majority of the time asking students how the book related to their lives.

Students and Cislak spoke about expectations placed on them and how they overcome them.

Many of the students in the club agreed they had a lot of the same thoughts and were being greatly helped by the book.

"I've already resonated with it," said Natalie Will, a senior at University High School.

Cislak said she's appreciated the chance to connect with students she hadn't had the chance to before.

"The real work being a principal is being with kids and being with teachers," said Cislak.