Vaughn Sheds “A New Light”

Vaughn Sheds “A New Light”

Upper School English teacher Kyle Vaughn recently published his book “A New Light in Kalighat.” And we think our teachers just teach.

PUBLISHED PRO Teacher Kyle Vaughn peruses his recently published book. Photo by Sydney
PUBLISHED PRO Teacher Kyle Vaughn peruses his recently published book. Photo by Sydney

Vaughn’s book is an anthology focused on the children served by New Light, an Indian non-profit organization located in Kalighat, Calcutta’s oldest red-light district. New Light works “to promote gender equality through education and life-skill training” by providing education, healthcare and nutritional support to the Kalighat children whose parents are often sex workers or of the dalit, the outcasts.

Vaughn co-authored his book with Breanna Reynolds, an English teacher at THINKGlobal, the world’s first traveling high school in India, features the portraits, life stories, artwork and writing of more than 50 of the New Light children.

Last summer, Vaughn taught English at St. James Boys’ School in Calcutta, where he met Urmi Basu, the director of New Light. The children served as his inspiration for pursuing the topic in his book.

“I’ve worked with these kinds of groups before,” Vaughn said. “I’ve always been moved not only by the [the children’s]struggle but also by the hope they seem to exude as well.”

Since “A New Light” was funded through grants, particularly from the American Council for International Education, Vaughn and Reynolds were given a deadline. While in India, the two teachers had to organize photo shoots—sometimes six to eight hours long—in 110-degree heat. The children were also assigned art and writing assignments that were then collected.

Once back in the U.S., Vaughn edited the photos himself, designed the book and summarized the children’s life stories as small captions. Vaughn believes he and Reynolds “did a better job as photographers than as journalists.” Overall, the end result was, in his opinion, “fairly powerful.”

The deadline for the completed anthology was set for late February. As of now, the production of the book is limited and isn’t widely available yet. Vaughn is hoping for a greater production of the books and, possibly, an eBook.

Vaughn admitted it was difficult to work on his book and balance the busy work as a Hockaday English teacher. His colleague, English Department Chair Dr. Deborah Moreland, admires and respects his dedication to writing that enables him to create the time to do so.

“When one is a writer, one writes,” she said. “Mr. Vaughn is a writer.”

“A New Light” did inspire, for example, the assignments he gave to his freshmen classes. Vaughn also believes “A New Light” can apply to the Hockaday community.

“It really opened my eyes to some needs that we should address here,” he said. “I think we need to be much more proactive in learning about these kinds of situations around the world. I don’t think we address them enough at Hockaday.”