About Us
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Severn

Celebrating Black Voices at the Zimmerman Library

From February 18th-21st, the Zimmerman crew transformed the Teel Campus library into a multimedia celebration of Black authors, musicians, artists, and filmmakers with a culminating read-in event on Friday. Librarians Ms. Whitney Etchison, Ms. Diana Ford, and Ms. Mary Carrington covered the shelves in everything from literary classics to contemporary graphic novels. They filled the walls and windows with artwork and quotes, inviting our Middle and Upper School students to read, interact, observe and share. With comfy seats and quiet nooks around every corner, our students explored the stories of Black Americans throughout history and today.

A Growing Tradition

Our librarians work very closely with our students to develop strong relationships and a sense of trust. They strive to make every student feel known and valued — whether that means helping with research, troubleshooting tech, recommending books or just talking about what’s going on in their lives. They create unique programs and events to encourage students to engage with reading and books. And they provide a comfortable space for students to express themselves, explore relevant issues and spend time with one another.
Severn School library display of books.
This is their fourth large-scale library program to celebrate and recognize the work of Black Americans. They tweak the program each year to make sure it stays relevant for the kids, incorporating popular authors with different ways to access their work. This year, they included guided lunch discussions for both Middle and Upper School students during the week.
“I loved the addition of the lunch discussions this year. Every seat was taken during Middle School lunch! Students watched clips of Black American authors reading their work aloud and many clamored to check out the books afterward. During Upper School lunch, we had a smaller group talking about Angie Thomas’s bestselling novel, The Hate U Give, codeswitching, and the power of words. They were very open and honest, and I was honored they felt safe discussing such personal topics in the library." — Library Associate Ms. Diana Ford
Upper School lunch and discussion about The Hate U Give.
Our librarians also encouraged teachers to reserve library spaces for poetry readings, silent reading, and film and video showings — all to honor the contributions and achievements of Black Americans. Assistant Librarian Ms. Etchison remarked that more students checked out books during this year’s program than ever before.
Ms. Maxey reserved the Bremer Room for her class to practice spoken word techniques with poetry by Black writers.
Ms. Steppe and her 6th grade students explored the collection together.

The Read-In

At the end of the week, the library welcomed any student or class to come in and read a book, short story, poetry, or anything else written by Black Americans. It was a free-flowing event and throughout the day you could find students cozied up reading, listening to the vinyl collection, and having informal discussions sparked by the collection. This annual program is part of a growing movement to make literature a focus during Black History Month.

According to the National Council for the Teachers of English website, “The National African American Read-In is the nation’s first and oldest event dedicated to diversity in literature. It was established in 1990 by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month. This initiative has reached more than 6 million participants around the world.”
Ms. Ford joining in!
Checking out artists ranging from Whitney Houston to John Coltrane.

A Mission-Driven Program

It is part of the Zimmerman Library’s mission to maintain a diverse and growing collection. This celebration was an opportunity to draw attention to one particular lens in that vision. With artwork on display and the sounds of American soul, jazz and R&B in the background, it was a day to immerse ourselves in the experiences, achievements, and creative works of Black Americans who have and continue to make such an unforgettable impact on our culture.

The mission statement reads, “The Severn School Libraries collaborate with teachers across disciplines to prepare students for their futures. Through their support of the school’s curriculum, the Libraries ensure that Severn graduates are skilled and ethical users of information. The Libraries foster the love of reading and lifelong learning by maintaining a robust collection that caters to diverse backgrounds, perspectives, interests, and opinions.”
“One of the great joys of being a school librarian is curating a collection that gives our students an opportunity to see themselves within the pages of a book. We work hard to make our collection as diverse as we can and to include a wide variety of authors on our shelves. Our best days are when entire classes of students come into the library and paw through the books. Next month, we’re celebrating Women’s History Month, which will bring out a different collection of titles.” — Director of Library Services Ms. Carrington

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Lower School

Preschool-Grade 5
Chesapeake Campus
1185 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd
Arnold, MD 21012

Middle/Upper School

Grade 6-12
Teel Campus
Severna Park, MD 21146