Friday, June 1, 2018

I was fortunate and honored to be a part of Career Day again this year at Calvert Elementary School in Aldine ISD in Houston.  I enjoyed getting to see other community leaders I've met in the past year or so and meeting new ones as well.  Although at the end of the day I'm tired and have cotton mouth, I absolutely LOVE getting to visit the school and read my books and talk about them.  These kids are really smart and ask some really good questions.  It's really neat to walk into a classroom and have students remember me from last year or the year before.  I getting the biggest high and warm fuzzy when I'm walking from classroom to classroom and see kids from the classes I've visited earlier in the day, and they smile and wave at me.  It affirms my faith in myself to work on my dream of being an author.  If I could be an author full-time, I would be.  Alas, I still need my day job, but if I could, I'd write and visit schools, libraries, and daycares ALL the time.  I feel so fulfilled by getting to live my dream even though it may only be on a part-time basis...for now.

I hope to be a part of Career Day again next year, but I'm not certain I'll get to participate.  It will depend on where I'm working this time next year.  My office is closing in October when the lease is up, and for now the bosses haven't decided where they'll be moving the office.  Wherever it is, though, I won't be joining them.  Therefore, I'm really glad I was able to attend this year.  Another reason I'm glad I could go to Career Day is because one of the teachers is a friend of mine, and after 20 years of being in the same classroom, she'll be moving to another campus within the district as the district is moving the Kindergarten classes off the elementary campuses to the Pre-K/Kindergarten campuses to focus on what the little ones really need.  I just recently learned this and was really thankful I had the pleasure of being in her classroom this year to read to her students. 

As I grow as an author, I continue to strive to make my dream come true.  One of the things I would love to increase doing is visiting schools in the Houston area or in the East Texas area.  If anyone would like for me to come visit their classroom next year, let's try to make it work out! 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

I once again had the enjoyment of attending Career Day at Calvert Elementary School in Aldine ISD in Houston, TX!  It such a fun time!  It really is a dream come true to get to visit the school and read and discuss my books and about being an author.  I truly wish THIS could be my full-time job!  LOL!
The kids are so sweet and seem to really enjoy the stories that I read to them, and they ask the best questions.  One of them asked if there would be a follow up story to The Kitty with the Itty-Bitty Tail.  I thought that was a wonderful idea!  Hmmm...something to think about.  :)  However, this same student (bless his heart)...well, when I called on him, I said, "Yes, ma'am?"  He replied, "I'm not a girl!"  OOPS!  OH NO!  I think I recovered quite quickly and told him I was so sorry and then asked him, "What was your question again?"  I felt SO bad.  His hair looked like a girl's hair to me, but it made me think that's for sure.  Maybe in the future just ask "Yes?" and point out to whom I want to answer his or her question.  These particular students at this school wear uniforms, and he was also wearing a jacket that could belong to either a girl or boy so I blundered, but boy did I feel horrible about it.

One thing I had not encountered before was a classroom in which about half the class was hearing impaired.  A lot of the students were wearing hearing aids, and in fact, there was a sign language interpreter in the classroom translating for the students while I read my books and discussed them.  There were also a couple of other ladies in there, and I'm guessing they were also interpreters for the deaf.  I'm not really sure and didn't have time to ask.  We get 5  minutes to get to our next classroom.  I was glad to see that these students' needs were being met.  Coming from a family in which my mother was hearing-impaired, I'm happy to see these students have some resources available to them to help them learn.  I'm sure in my mother's day, and even mine, there was no such thing as this kind of assistance.

All in all it was a great, fast-paced day.  I look forward to going to Career Day next year if I'm available to do so.  I really hope I am because it is so  much fun, and the administrators that coordinate the event do a great job of making it run smoothly and make us community leaders as they call us feel very welcome and appreciated.

Lastly, I mostly read The Kitty with the Itty-Bitty Tail to the classes since I like the message it conveys to the students, and in today's society, I believe they need to start learning about bullying and feeling special about themselves at an early age.  We can't wait till middle school or high school to address this issue.  Too many lives are being lost because of it.  Anyway, for the Kindergarten class and the 3rd grade class (because they asked me to) I read Nana's Banana.  I guess I'm going through menopause or about to be because both times, I kid you not, I almost started crying at the end each time!  I could hear my voice cracking, and my eyes starting tearing up.  I just kept thinking, "Focus!  Don't cry in front of these kids!  You don't want them going home and telling their parents that the author lady cried"  LOL!  I recovered pretty quickly, but oh my!  Talk about being in the moment and dealing with the feels...

Saturday, June 4, 2016

On Wednesday, May 25, 2016 I got to accomplish a goal that had been a long time in coming.  I got to read my books to a lot of classrooms at one school!  I had previously read to my great nephew Sully's classroom a couple of times, and I LOVED it!  However, I wanted to do more than read to ONE classroom.  I wanted to read my books to the WHOLE school!  I pretty much got to do that on Career Day.  The day consisted of us community leaders including myself, a lawyer, a nurse, a photographer, policemen, firemen, and others rotating from classroom to classroom in 7 sessions to talk about our lives in our chosen careers.  Each session was 30 minutes, and although at first I worried I wouldn't fill up 30 minutes, I soon learned that 30 minutes at school goes by really fast.  I only read both books actually to the Kindergarten class because there was time to do so.  All the other classes I just read The Kitty with the Itty-Bitty Tail because I think it has a great message for kids at those age/grade levels.  Before I began reading the kitty book, I asked the students to listen very carefully and see if they could relate to the emotions Ethel was feeling as I read along in the book. They were point on.  They answered sad, mad, scared, shy, nervous, etc. and quite a few of them shared their experiences with being nervous on the first day of school or of being teased or made fun of or bullied.  After each reading, I was met with applause and "thank you" from the students.  It was such a wonderful feeling to read MY books to all these groups of appreciative, attentive kiddos.  It was a dream come true, and one I wish I could pursue more often.  However, reality doesn't permit me to do this full-time.  I'm just happy to have had the opportunity to reach this goal even if it was only for one day.  Baby steps...It takes time...

I loved the questions I was asked, and I was pleasantly surprised at the cognitive level to which a lot of these students asked questions of me.  The better the connection to self or others, the higher the thinking skills.  One second grader even made a text-to-text connection to not only one other book, but TWO other books!  It was exciting to see that in person.  I almost wanted to high-five him!  Here are the FAQ:

1.  Are you famous? 

2. How long does it take to write a book?

3.  Did you hand-write your books or write them on the computer?

4.  How many books do you have?

5.  Did you do the illustrations?

6.  Are you writing other books?  What are they about?

7.  Where can we get your books?

8.  How much are your books?

9.  Have you met any famous authors? 

I'm sure there were other questions, but these were the most frequently asked that I can remember now. 

I left each group with a "thank you" and left a business card for all the students and teachers with each teacher.  Did I go to Career Day to sell books?  Yes, I'll admit if I can make a book sale or two, that'd be great, but the most important thing for me was to INSPIRE these kids to read but also to INSPIRE them to follow their dreams and set goals on what they want to do with their lives and work toward them. 

I had such an awesome time.  I hope I get to do it again next year!