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Check our links at the top of this page and in the left column: our most frequently asked question (FAQ) is

Why read Sherlock Holmes today?

Jan Stauber Grant Winners for 2015

This year Jan Stauber Grant funding was at an all-time high of $8,000. We were able to provide up to $500 to fifteen teachers and librarians to assist them in developing a teaching project to introduce more young people to Sherlock Holmes. Here are the winners for 2014:

  • Shannon Carlisle, Moore Elementary School, Franklin, TN. “The Character Traits of Sherlock Holmes for the Younger Elementary Student” for kindergarden and grade 1 and “The Sherlock Holmes Museum for the Young, Curious, and Observant Mind” for grade 4
  • Lisa Casey, Melrose Elementary School, Jamestown, RI. “The Melrose Street Irregulars—an after-school library reading program” for grade 4
  • Jennifer Clapp, Malden High School, Malden, MA. “The Mystery of the Mystery—Sherlock Holmes course unit” for grade 12
  • Cathy Collins, Sharon High School, Sharon, MA. “Elective forensic course incorporating the Sherlock Holmes stories” for grades 9-12
  • Michelle Fiorini, Benjamin Middle School, West Chicago, IL. “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes—a program to improve reading skills and encourage students to think critically” for grade 5
  • Rachel Karch, Lexington Public Schools, Lexington, OK. “Sherlock Holmes Week—a program which will integrate the Canon into English, science, art, and social studies classes” for grades 7-12
  • Kristy Lucio, Williamson Library, Williamson, GA. “Sherlock Holmes themed mystery dinner theater” for ages 10 and up
  • Dorothea Miller, Albright College and 13th and Union Elementary School Partnership, Reading, PA. “A two week reading/language arts unit built around the Sherlock Holmes stories” for grade 4
  • Robert Nunn, Albert Cassens Elementary School, Glen Carbon, IL. “Sherlock Holmes in the Classroom: A Cross-curricular Approach Integrating Literature and Mathematics” for grade 5
  • Pamela Seigel, Enid High School Library, Enid, OK. “Sherlock Holmes Book Club” for grades 9-12
  • Stephanie Singer, Readington Middle School Library Media Center, Whitehouse Station, NJ. “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—classic author” for grades 6-7
  • Chris Sloan and Penny Mandziara, Bensenville Community Public Library, Bensenville, IL. “The Hound of the Baskervilles—an analysis of the original work and adaptations for Blackhawk Middle School students’ English classes” for grades 6-8
  • Larnette Snow, St. Paul School, Cana, VA. “Learning to Think Like Sherlock Holmes” for grades 5 and 7
  • Aprille Williams and A.J. Jackson, Richard B. Russell Middle School, Winder, GA. “ A critical analysis of the Sherlock Holmes stories and various adaptations of those stories” for grade 8
  • Jan Stauber Grant Applications for 2016/2017 will open in February.

    See the 2015 Application. Guidelines are included with the application, which can be downloaded as a PDF or MS Word file.

    What's the Official Charity of 221B Con?

    The Beacon Society, that's who! We're a 501(c)(3) organization, proud and happy to be featured at 221B Con in Atlanta, GA on April 10-12, 2015. Beacon Award winners Tim Greer (2014) and Shannon Carlisle (2013) and Beacon officers Marino Alvarez, Chris Zordan, and Marilynne McKay served on panels: look for the Book Club "Colors of Sherlock" and pick up a Beacon pin while you're there.

    Timothy S. Greer, winner of the 2014 Beacon Award

    Pictured with former Beacon Head Light Susan Diamond (left) and outgoing Awards & Grants Chair Elaine Coppola (right),  Timothy S. Greer was honored at the Beacon Annual Meeting at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in January 2014. He is an instructor in English and fine arts and director of theater at Memphis University School in Memphis, TN. Mr Greer teaches a Detective Fiction course to high-school seniors in order to strengthen their cognitive abilities and foster critical thinking and writing skills.

    Mr. Greer teaches that the world still needs Sherlock Holmes, a detective who seeks justice for the victim but also, and more importantly, for society. Classroom discussions range from Aristotle’s “Metaphysics” and “the insatiable human desire to know,” to recurring themes in detective fiction such as justice, revenge, obsession, the nature of truth, the rule of law and the burden of genius. students and Holmes with bloodhounds

    It’s not all theory, either: Mr. Greer’s students record their findings in field notebooks as they analyze handwriting and forgery, bite marks, gunshot residue, and even conduct manhunts using a bloodhound on campus. These activities allow them to follow in the footsteps of Doyle’s iconic character in stories such as “The Reigate Squires” and “The Sign of Four.” (Sidney Paget drawing at right from "The Missing Three-Quarter")

    Students call Greer’s Detective Fiction course one of the best classes they have ever taken and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle won the most "favorite author" votes. Typical comments: "This was my favorite class in my six years at MUS,” “Thank you so much for an unforgettable semester,” “The labs were awesome,” “Sherlock Holmes 4ever!”

    The Beacon Award consists of a certificate and, since 2011, a check for $221. The winner is announced in New York at the Annual Meeting of the Beacon Society during the Sherlock Holmes Birthday Weekend, held each January.

    We invite US and Canadian teachers, librarians, Sherlockian literary societies, and others to apply for the Beacon Society's major funding project. Applications and reports from previous winners are available on the Jan Stauber Grant page. The application deadline is typically May 1 and the grant period runs from 1 July to 30 June.

    Our Mission

    We help teachers and librarians use the literature of Sherlock Holmes to engage kids in the pleasures of reading. We're a not-for-profit scion of the Baker Street Irregulars, providing resources that bring the magic of Sherlock Holmes to life in the classroom.

    Each year, our Jan Stauber Grants help local teachers and librarians develop Sherlock Holmes teaching units in their schools. We also give Beacon Awards to people or groups who have made an outstanding contribution toward the Beacon Society’s mission.

    We provided over $7000 for grants and awards last year, but we'd love to support more programs. If you'd like to help, please make a tax-deductible donation here on our website. We accept PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Security is guaranteed by PayPal, the company that handles our online account.

    What's New

    Judith Freeman has written a helpful Manual for Starting a Sherlockian Group.

    Baker Street Irregular Sally Sugarman has compiled a READING LIST for young people who may not be quite ready for Arthur Conan Doyle or may want to explore contemporary mysteries with youthful detectives. Professor Sugarman retired from Bennington College where she taught Childhood Studies for thirty-five years. She is currently teaching Literature for Children and Popular Culture in America for Johnson State College and Community College of Vermont. We are most grateful that her love of teaching and Sherlock Holmes have come together for the Beacon Society.

    Bill Dorn won the 2012 Beacon Award, and now his 2-volume set of Study Guides to Sherlock Holmes has been converted to e-books by the publisher, BSDP! Copies are now available free of charge to members of the Beacon Society. Contact the Beacon Awards Chair, Susan Diamond, who will either confirm your membership or sign you up (membership is free). Once you're officially on board, Susan will get you in touch with the publisher, George Vanderburgh of BSDB, who will email you the (electronic) Study Guides. Thanks, George!

    A Case Study of The Red-Headed League has been developed by Professor Marino Alvarez. This ambitious project includes PDF files for Teacher and Student Guides with concept maps, visual literacy guides and thematic organizers. There's an illustrated copy of the story with questions for each section, too. Thank you, Professor Alvarez!

    We've enjoyed meeting Maria Konnikova, a writer for The New Yorker whose series "Lessons from Sherlock Holmes" appeared in Scientific American from August to November 2011. She is from New York City and received her PhD in psychology at Columbia University. Her first book, "Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes," was published by Viking/Penguin.

    The Beacon Society is now on Facebook! We have joined several other Sherlockian groups on Facebook. Drop by, "friend" us, and tell us what you'd like to see.

    In the Spotlight

    Sherlockians enjoy developing teaching materials and sharing them with others. Look through contributions from Beacon Society members and supporters.

    Past winners of the Jan Stauber Grants enjoy sharing their experiences. Guidelines and application forms are available on the Jan Stauber Grant page.

    Contemporary BBC/PBS Sherlock Holmes series

    Sherlock, a 3-episode series from the BBC, first aired in the US in October 2010 on PBS "Masterpiece Mystery." We were very pleased to find that PBS mentioned the Beacon Society in its Book and Film Club: Sherlock list of "Resources" for the first show, A Study in Pink. More episodes of Sherlock were shown on PBS in May 2012 and the next series shows in January 2014 in the US.

    Contact the Beacon Webmaster: mmckayATL@comcast.net

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