Teacher book club provides insight into books, bonding time outside of work


Teachers at Rochester High at one of their meetings and discuss books and socialize.

Maria Broecker

A group of 20 women from various departments gather five times each year to share about their personal lives and about the book or books they read for book club. Each person is afforded an opportunity to share her reaction and insights into the plot, characters or theme and participants react to each other’s feedback.

The titles the teacher book club has read so far include: “State of Wonder” by Ann Patchet, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, “The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Gailbraith (J.K. Rowling), “Bridget Jones’ Diary” by Helen Fielding,”We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves” by Karen Joy Fowler, “The Book Thief” by Markus Zuzak and “Little Princes” by Conor Grennan.

Most recently, math teacher Mrs. Lisa Gotko hosted book club on Thursday, Oct. 23, along with co-host special education teacher Mrs. Amy Cosentino. After catching up with each other, the ladies discussed “The Book Thief” by Markus Zuzak and “Little Princes” by Conor Grennan. They closed the meeting by voting on the next book, which will be “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes and will be co-hosted by paraprofessional Manon Clavette and sign language teacher Ms. Angela Lowry.

The idea for the club was initially developed after business teacher Mrs. Karen Malsbury started organizing social activities for staff bonding.

“I am the director of the social club here at Rochester High and created the book club as another way to get together, socialize and really get to know each other outside of school,” Mrs. Malsbury said.

According to Mrs. Malsbury, the club allows them to bond with one another and learn new things.

“When you read a book, you are reflecting on your own personal relationships and even experiences that you have had,” Mrs. Malsbury said. “Then you are like, ‘oh my, you have been to Africa?’ … stuff you wouldn’t have known about someone before, and that is really the coolest thing.”

At meetings, members are able to explore others’ experiences and relationships; this spills into each individual’s interpretation of the book.

“What other people have to say about the book is my favorite part,” Mrs. Malsbury said. “When you read a book, you interpret it differently than other people because it’s your own internal interpretations, so when I’m thinking of a story’s plot or character it might not be what someone else is thinking. Then when you get to discussing it, you’re like ‘oh I didn’t think about it like that.’ Also, if there is something that was bothering you or you were wondering why did the author do that, someone says something and you are like ‘oh, now I get why.’”

Math teacher Mrs. Ward believes that the book club has allowed her to get in touch with teachers from different departments.

“It’s a way to connect with people you wouldn’t usually talk to, people who I don’t have the same lunch with and you don’t have to talk about other kids,” Mrs. Ward said. “It’s cool to go to people’s houses and see where they live, what their life is like and unwind and talk books.”

Connecting with work colleagues and learning about each other’s perspectives on life has additional benefits.

“Definitely more respect — I think they don’t think I’m dumb anymore,” Mrs. Malsbury said. “Well no, because they only see me as a computer business teacher and they know my strengths and weaknesses, but then when I give them a different perspective they are like ‘oh, I see where she is coming from,’ and then I know I have accomplished something.”

It’s not surprising that the teacher group has a system for selecting books and a ‘lesson plan’ for book club meetings.

“We choose them by vote,” Mrs. Ward said. “If you host, you pick some books to put out for votes, and then everyone votes on them. The host has the last say.”

The book club puts reading at the forefront of this group’s already busy schedules.

“Well, you know, it’s amazing how instead of just sitting and watching some stupid TV show or even you could be watching HGTV and still be reading, so it just makes you prioritize more,” math teacher Mrs. Gotko said. “Knowing that I need to finish the book makes me finish the book and it makes me read.”

Because of the success of the teacher book club, Mrs. Maslbury has a suggestion for the RHS student body.

“I think the students should have a book club,” Mrs. Malsbury said. “They would see how much it can strengthen relationships.”