(This book cannot be returned.)
The unlikely yet inspiring true story of a teacher struggling with mental illness, a silent daughter of an undocumented mother, and the amazing one-room schoolhouse that helped them find their voices, heal their pain, and become empowering models of resilience.
After seven years at a high school with metal detectors and armed police, Yale-educated teacher Stephen Haff suffered a breakdown. Doctors later diagnosed him with bi-polar depression. Inspired by his former students, Haff formed a reading group that eventually became Still Waters in A Storm, an after school program in Bushwick, Brooklyn. techniques from outside standard educational practices—Drawing from his experiences, Haff developed a new teaching method using AA meetings, Quaker prayers, psychotherapy, and even Buddhist meditation circles to create a more empathetic and collaborative environment. In this fluid, welcoming space, Stephen and his students found solace and something else: their voices. All agreed that at Still Waters there would only be one rule: everyone listens to everyone. And this one rule has unlocked their incredible potential.
Over the years, Still Waters’ student have studied Latin, played violin and now they have taken on a new challenge: translating episodes from the classic Don Quixote into English from Spanish. With the help of dictionaries and the approval of acclaimed Don Quixote translator, Edith Grossman, the Still Waters students created a modern travelling musical, The Traveling Adventures of Kid Quixote, which has been performed across New York City.
About the Author
Stephen Haff is the founder of Still Waters in a Storm, a one-room school serving Spanish-speaking immigrant children in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Previously, he taught English at a public school in Bushwick for nearly a decade. He earned his MFA in Theater Studies at Yale, and has made a living directing plays and writing essays for the Village Voice and other publications. Stephen lives in Queens with his wife, children’s book author Tina Schneider, and their three children.
"Empathetic and inspiring account of the imagination, triumphs, and worries of a child of immigrants. A tender, inspiring, and courageous true story."
— Kirkus Reviews
"Sara shares how her experiences and performances have given her the confidence to get past her shyness and speak up about issues important to her community, such as immigration and deportations."
"Sarah’s story is a beautiful representation of one young Mexican American girl’s journey to claim her identity. This important book spotlights a community using the arts to break down social borders."
— School Library Journal
“In my years of experience as a writer and as a college professor, I have never seen anything like this: the love for language, the passion for discussion, clarity of mind, and humility of heart. Stephen Haff invents impossible projects and makes them possible.”
— Valeria Luiselli, author of Lost Children Archive
“I wept and cheered all through this extraordinary book. There is magic in these pages just as surely as Stephen Haff and his students prove there is magic in the act of telling and, importantly, in the act of listening. Everyone everywhere needs to read this book.”
— Cristina Henríquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans
“In Kid Quixotes, the children of Latino migrants in Bushwick, Brooklyn, carry on Don Quixote’s mission to bring literature to life and rescue the world in the process. Stephen Haff reveals the power of words to heal oneself and a country simultaneously formed by migrants and suspicious of them. Cervantes couldn’t be any prouder.”
— Rogelio Miñana, author of La verosimilitud en el Siglo de Oro, head of the Department of Global Studies and Modern Languages, Drexel University