BrickcitySampson Davis, author of Living and Dying in Brick City: Stories from the Front Lines of an Inner-City E.R. and co-author of the New York Times bestseller The Pact, will be available this fall to Skype with your students.

Click here for more information about requesting a free 30-minute Skype session with Sampson Davis. Please note Skypes are limited and subject to the author’s availability.

To bring Sampson Davis to your school, click here.

Read the author’s message to educators here.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksIn a news conference, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced an agreement with the family of Henrietta Lacks that will restrict NIH-financed research on the HeLa genome. Two members of Lacks’ family will serve on the HeLa Genome Council, marking the first time tissue donors have had a voice in the process and finally giving the Lacks family a say in how Henrietta’s cells are used. To learn more about this landmark announcement for which author Rebecca Skloot’s book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has played such a large role, please read the following articles: The HeLa Genome: An Agreement on Privacy and Access from the NIH, Nature Magazine and The New York Times.

Davisby Sampson Davis, author of Living and Dying in Brick City: An ER Doctor Returns Home (Spiegel & Grau, February 2013)

It was my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Speights, who made education fun, exciting, and, most importantly, helped me to feel that I was one of the smartest kids in her class. Maybe she inspired all the kids to feel the same way, but nonetheless it was her grace, witty remarks, and dynamic teaching style that managed to penetrate my young impressionable mind and divert me from the stark reality of poverty, crime, and drug infestation in my hometown of Newark, New Jersey, where the high school graduation rate falls well below fifty percent. Just like my mother, Mrs. Speights often echoed, “Education will save your life”—and it certainly did. To Mrs. Speights and all educators, I humbly thank you for being heroes to so many students, including a kid who once didn’t believe he could become a board certified emergency medicine doctor, a philanthropist, and an author.

My latest book, Living and Dying in Brick City: An ER Doctor Returns Home is my way of giving back to the many educators who helped me escape the thought that education wasn’t for me and the belief that I wasn’t good enough.  You have both championed and inspired me—and I thank you. (more…)

Students at Evans High School in Evans, Georgia celebrate their first Henrietta Lacks Day

On October 4, 2011, the Evans High School Multicultural Club and Evans High School Biology teachers invited the entire staff and student body of Evans High School to celebrate the life of Henrietta Lacks.  Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital on this day in 1951.  Henrietta Lacks may have died on this day, but her cells, called HeLa cells, are still living in laboratories all over the world.  “Henrietta’s cells were the first immortal human cells ever grown in culture.  They were essential to developing the polio vaccine.  They went up in the first space missions to see what would happen to cells in zero gravity.  Many scientific landmarks since then have used her cells, including cloning, gene mapping, and in vitro fertilization” (Zielinski, 2010).  This is an incredible story told by Rebecca Skloot in her award-winning book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  This book makes a wonderful springboard for discussions concerning civil rights and medical ethics as well as the science behind these miraculous cells.  Another interesting subject covered in the book involves the Lacks family.  The family receives no monetary compensation from laboratories and drug companies using HeLa cells and they cannot afford healthcare. (more…)

Read the important book that’s topping many school lists. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years.

In the following video clip, author Rebecca Skloot sits down to discuss the inspiration, impact, and process that went into The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

The paperback edition of the book releases on March 8, 2011.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

by Amy Jurskis, Tri-cities High School, East Point, Georgia

Like many teachers, I grew up reading, and to this day I attribute most of my knowledge to stories I read in books. Perhaps more than any other pedagogical tool, narratives allow students to connect to, organize, and make sense of information—which is why I was thrilled to tune into Fresh Air on NPR one afternoon and discover Rebecca Skloot’s amazing book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Skloot’s book is essentially three narratives, each with unique applications to the disciplines of language arts, history, and science. First there is the story of the author’s own odyssey—sparked by a casual comment made by a biology instructor—to discover the woman behind the HeLa cells. Skloot’s story is both a riveting work of investigative journalism and a deeply moving memoir, as her search for answers ultimately results in the development of a life-changing friendship with Henrietta’s daughter Deborah. (more…)

Plenty

Plenty by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon

by Alisa Smith, co-author with J.B. MacKinnon of Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet (First 10 people to post a comment will receive a FREE copy of the book. Simply post a comment and then email us with your full school mailing address).

Who would have thought that a totally local concept could travel around the world? James and I wouldn’t have believed it when we began our local-eating experiment in Vancouver, Canada, back in 2005. It was a private, personal thing. We deprived ourselves of rice, olive oil, sugar, and all packaged foods for a whole year because of what people are now calling our  “carbon footprint.” We had just learned that even a simple turnip or apple travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate. An entire supermarket-sourced meal could have enough air miles to span the globe. Already, we were worried about the amount of fossil fuels consumed by our modern lifestyles, so we figured our daily bread was the perfect place to start cutting back. After all, couldn’t you grow lettuce in your own backyard? (more…)