NEWARK, N.J., April 25, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Newark Public Schools announces a first-of-its kind collaborative project in American educational history, the publication of “We Were Strangers Once, Too,” a collection of 58 student stories centered around themes of immigration and identity, available today on The book is a necessary read and an empathetic balm in a polarized world.

“I’m inspired by the extraordinary Newark students who shared their stories of immigration with courage and vulnerability,” shared Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). “Each journey reflects a conspiracy of love—loved ones and countless others seen and unseen propelling them towards a better future—and each journey speaks to the strength, beauty, and enduring promise of this great city.”

Each individual story showcases a first-person account of the journey to the United States or an immigration experience from one of our most vulnerable voices, representing 24 countries, 5 continents, and told in over a dozen unique languages. These narratives provide a window into all aspects of life as an immigrant child in America, including a breathtaking series of individual stories that combine to take readers the complete way from South America to the border, through jungles and over rivers and under cover of night as gang members and police make hot pursuit.

“In ‘We Were Strangers Once Too’, the courageous voices of our students illuminate the pages with their tales of resilience and vulnerability. Through their stories, they not only share their immigration journeys but also showcase the strength of the human spirit and the power of empathy,” Science Park principal Darleen Gearhart said. “These young authors inspire us all to embrace diversity, celebrate difference, and recognize the beauty in every individual narrative.”

100% of profits from the sale of the book will go right back to the authors through student fund accounts at Newark Public Schools and Science Park High School, dedicated to providing resources for students who are experiencing food or financial insecurities.

“‘We Were Strangers Once, Too’ is a masterpiece of empathy and resilience. Through the courageous voices of Newark’s students, we travel continents, languages, and even hardships, to discover the power of shared humanity,” Newark’s Superintendent Roger León said. “These stories stand as symbols of hope, and what is possible, by reminding us to embrace diversity, celebrate difference, and find strength in our collective journey.”

“We Were Strangers Once, Too,” is edited by Science Park High School English teacher Shawn Adler. In 2023, Mr. Adler was among the shortlist of nominees for the $1 million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, in partnership with UNESCO. Identified as the “Nobel Prize of Teaching,” the Global Teacher Prize serves to underline the importance of educators and the fact that, throughout the world, their efforts deserve to be recognized and celebrated. For his work in elevating student voices through narrative, Mr. Adler has been featured on NBC News, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Star Ledger, NJ 101.5, and others, while being celebrated at every level of American government, including by President Joe Biden.

“We Were Strangers Once, Too” is available on

About Newark Public Schools

The Newark Public Schools is the largest school district in New Jersey and dates back to 1676. The District currently enrolls over 39,000 students in 63 schools. After more than two decades of state operation and upon return to local control in 2018, the District has opened 9 new schools under Superintendent León’s leadership with an additional portfolio of new options to be announced in the coming months and years. The Newark Board of Education serves as a beacon of educational excellence, dedicated to nurturing the potential of every student. With a commitment to innovation, inclusivity, and fostering a love for learning, the District continues to shape future generations and make a positive impact within the community.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Nancy J. Deering, Acting Communications Director

[email protected]

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SOURCE Newark Board of Education


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