Miami Herald: Gulliver Student Writes Four Children’s Books on the Importance of Diversity and Inclusion

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Olivia Connor presenting the children's books she wrote

by Emily Rivera for The Miami Herald

Gulliver Prep senior Olivia Connor is a published children’s book author and her stories have been incorporated into the curriculum of 28 Miami-Dade County public schools.

She was invited to lecture at the University of Notre Dame, where she spoke to undergraduate students about storytelling to get students involved in social justice.

Connor grew interested in writing for political and social change through her IB Global Politics class at Gulliver taught by Dr. Michael Kokozos, who has mentored her.

Her class solidified the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, topics that she would later write about in four children’s books.

In the class, students lead self-directed projects. Connor put together a video where she urged her peers at Gulliver and beyond to pick up a piece of garbage in order to create cleaner, healthier planet — she called it: #JustaPiece.

“I felt passionate about these issues and it gave me a new perspective on politics,” Connor said.

“Olivia’s interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion is reflected in her approach: a rare combination of humility and self-confidence,’’ said Kokozos, her teacher.

“Her choices reflect her character, recognizing her privilege while further advocating for the unheard. Olivia sees the inextricable relationship between personhood and community leadership; we must model our values in such a way that it inspires others to action.”

As a junior, she wrote her first book for Cloud9World, an academic learning program that develops social-emotional learning in elementary and middle school students. Her stories are told from an animal to child perspective to make it more engaging for her young audience. Her books include lovable characters like Gulcinea the Goat and Shania the Sheep.

She has since written three other books.

Connor believes that teaching children about diversity and inclusion is the most effective way to ensure socio-political change.

“It’s important to educate children about civic values and shape them into positive agents of change so that they can begin applying it to their lives,” Connor said.

At the University of Notre Dame, she also spoke to a philosophy of education and Spanish-language children’s literature class.

“Visiting Notre Dame a few months ago, and being welcomed for my lecture, made me fall in love with the school and become familiar with the close-knit community of people that care about each other’s success and well-being,” Connor said.

Connor, Gulliver’s Silver Knight nominee in English and Literature, plans to attend Notre Dame in August, studying international economics.

Click here to read this article on The Miami Herald website.