ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Flinn Middle School participated in the International Human Library Project which allowed the 8th grade students to tell narratives of their own lives and the lives of others.

Flinn Teacher’s Aubrey Barnett and Elizabeth Krampota took the lead on giving their students the opportunity to express themselves with personal stories while also doing something that brought the stateline community together

“If you listen to the students, we have several parents who have died, we have people who have witnessed death in front of them. The kind of trauma that comes to children when they experience loss at such an early age,” Barnett said. “It is our responsibility as a community to help them through that, and to value that.”

These were powerful stories that allowed the students to a therapeutic moment of sharing something deeply personal. Something she said was especially important over the recent years.

“The post- COVID world of the new pandemic of education, it is more important than ever to have the students feel like they are heard and that their stories matter. The way that you engage learners is by having it be personal and having it be meaningful,” Barnett said.

Rosemary Algarin a student at the school, shared a story about her biggest inspiration.

“It’s about my mom and how she was so independent with me and my brother after everything she went through and how she was my biggest inspiration in school to do good,” Algarin said. “Just like letting it off my chest and like telling people what I went through even though it’s hard to talk about.”

Barnett and Krampota hope this is just the beginning of events like this that help bring the community together and educate one another.

“Beginning of the year in a school that has not always seen as top performer, to have this many children choose to stay for an event to be able to tell in their own writing speaks volumes about where we want education to go and why their voices matter,” Barnett said.