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Why Mustard Seed Students Read

October 27, 2021 | Brent Harris

In the 6-8th grade classes at Mustard Seed School, students are required to read one book a week and write a response on that book. 

This has been the case since long before I started working at Mustard Seed School four years ago. I remember when I had a pre interview on the phone with Tom Postema. During this interview, he mentioned to me that “Mustard Seed School students are readers. If they are on the bus, they’ll have a book under their arm; If they have a few spare minutes at the end of a class, they’ll likely open up a book they’re reading a take in a couple pages. Students read at least one book a week.” I recall thinking that there is no way students read one book a week.

I have since come to learn that my initial thinking was incorrect. Mustard Seed School students ARE readers, and they DO read one book a week, and more than that, they write a Reader’s Response every time. Over the last four years, I have witnessed the clear benefits of this regular reading. Mustard Seed School students are readers, and because of this they are also:

Perceptive

Empathetic

Deep-Thinking

Prepared for High School and Beyond

Fantastic Writers

Inquisitive

Efficient Learners

And so, so much more. The benefits of regular reading have been made so clear to me while working at MSS that I’m confident our students could be the primary source of some study on reading during the formative years. I am so thankful to be surrounded by students who push each other, dive deeper, write eloquently, and think deeply. Reading is a huge part of the culture at Mustard Seed School, and I would say it is one of the central reasons why year after year, Mustard Seed graduates surprise their high school teachers. 

—-Brent Harris

Brent Harris

Teacher, Grade 7; Language Arts, Seventh and Eighth Grades

Brent Harris has been teaching Middle School students since 2015. He loves teaching students how to understand the world through literature and writing. He teaches English Language Arts, but he likes to teach other things too! Both of Mr. Harris' parents are educators, and despite trying his hardest to avoid following in his parents’ footsteps, he graduated from Calvin College with a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in English Education and a Minor in Physical Education; as a result, Brent is a great argument piece for any “Nature versus Nurture” debate.

In addition to teaching, Mr. Harris enjoys playing guitar and drums, listening to music, spending time outside, playing sports, and hanging out with his kind and loving wife, Lauren. A native of Ontario, Canada, Mr. Harris stays true to all the Canadian stereotypes by being extremely kind and perpetually sorry. He has been a director and counselor at multiple children’s camps in Canada and Michigan, and he appreciates the idea of teaching students and campers in a place where there is freedom to entertain new ideas and try out new things. Mr. Harris has enjoyed coaching volleyball, soccer, and baseball, and while he loves nature, he is being slowly converted into a city boy.

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