Photo on top: Project Cicero NNJ volunteers and organizers included from left Aidan Hunter ‘23, Dylan Goldman ‘19, Ezra Hunter ‘19, Ethan Hunter ‘18, Teddi Langbaum Hunter ‘87, Erica Beinhacker, Nina Backer, Jennifer Plotnick Backer ‘87, and Garrett Backer.
Project Cicero Northern New Jersey (NNJ), celebrated its fifth year in operation this spring with its final key phase, book sorting and distribution, on the D-E campus! An annual non-profit book drive, Project Cicero was designed to create and supplement classroom libraries in under-resourced New Jersey public schools. Each year, over 40 schools including D-E host book collections. Since it began in 2013, Project Cicero NNJ has been responsible for placing approximately 150,00 books in 200 local classrooms.
And for its 5th anniversary, Project Cicero hit several new milestones. Student co-leader Ethan Hunter ’18, who coordinated D-E’s participation together with co-leader Caroline Lobel ’18 and his brothers Ezra Hunter ’19 and Aidan Hunter ’23, reported, “With the help of 40 local schools who hosted book collections (including D-E which collected 25 boxes of books!) and 150 volunteers, we were able to donate nearly 40,000 books to teachers from schools without access to robust classroom libraries.”
Hundreds of excited teachers lined up patiently outside of Silberfein Gym with empty suitcases, tote bags, and baskets, to gather up new and gently-used childrens and young adolescent books in both English and other languages. As Project Cicero NNJ co-founder and D-E alumna Theodora “Teddi” Langbaum Hunter ’87 enthusiastically expressed, “This is what this program is really all about… getting books right into teachers’ hands.”
This thank you letter, sent to Project Cicero by one of the participating teachers, speaks volumes to the value of this program:
Today was my first Project Cicero ever. A coworker who had worked in another district mentioned it to me. In my school we do not have a school library because of spacing issues. In the town, the students do not have a town library either. The students rely heavily on their classroom libraries. As a teacher who has moved grade levels it is overwhelming and a constant pressure of feeling like you never have enough books and the amount of money you spend to supply books for the children. I walked out of project Cicero in tears by the amount of books available for teachers to take and share with their students. I cannot wait to organize, level them, and move them into my classroom library this week. Thank you for supporting teachers and providing such a great event at no cost. I am truly grateful.
With Gratitude, Josie Perez
Editor’s Note: Enjoy a timelapse video of Project Cicero NNJ 2017 being organized and in operation here: https://vimeo.com/207158914