Language Arts Department Invites Kwamé LaBassiere, Ph.D., for AAPI Month Read Aloud

Director of Information Technology Kwamé LaBassiere, Ph.D., met with all Manhattan and Westchester fifth-grade students virtually for a read aloud on May 19. Dr. LaBassiere was the second administrator, following Director of Human Resources Jada Jones, to join students in the classroom in an effort by the Language Arts department to host more events for staff to be directly involved with students.  

Director of Language Arts and Instruction Betsy Duffy selected the book Mop Rides the Waves of Life: A Story of Mindfulness and Surfing by Jaimal Yogis for the read aloud in recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May. Dr. LaBassiere was pleased to read the book to the students, as he himself is of Māori descent (indigenous Polynesian of mainland New Zealand) and an avid surfer. Unbeknownst to Ms. Duffy, he also personally knows the author.  

“Jaimal has always been a mellow, meditative individual, and his book’s message of practicing mindfulness to get past disagreements or scrapes with peers is something everyone can follow,” said Dr. LaBassiere. “This is a perfect book for all kids to read because it shows that there is no such thing as a bad day. There are only bad moments in an otherwise good day.” 

Following the read aloud, the fifth graders had the opportunity for a Q&A with Dr. LaBassiere about the story and himself. He greatly enjoyed interacting with the students and answering their questions such as, “What’s the biggest wave you ever surfed?”, “Have you ever seen a shark?”, and “What’s your favorite place to surf?” 

“I am glad the students enjoyed the read aloud, and it was a lot of fun for me,” said Dr. LaBassiere. “I only wish it could have been in person, but having the opportunity to interact more with the students was a real joy.”