HELLO, HEROIC TEACHERS AND LIBRARIANS!
It’s THAT time again. Valentine’s Day – when we all take a moment to celebrate those we love. So, we authors want you — teachers and librarians — to know that we adore you for all you do for kids every day. We appreciate you. We KNOW that you are not celebrated the way that you ought to be. For you, there should be parades and fireworks and a national holiday.
Many know that my second novel, Fish in a Tree, is a love letter to wonderful teachers everywhere. As I think of a few teachers, in particular, I really wonder where I’d be had I not crossed paths with them. Many have heard about Constantine Christy, my sixth grade teacher, who was the inspiration for Mr. Daniels in Fish. But, few know the story of Mr. Berard.
Mr. Berard was my seventh grade social studies teacher. He clearly loved his job and “his kids”. Just as with Mr. Christy, it became important to me to impress him so when he assigned a big project in late fall, I decided I would blow his mind by building a colonial village.
In the basement of our apartment, I found a piece of plywood and began there. By the time my mom came home from work, I was mixing plaster of Paris with dirt on our dining room table. (Yeah, I know…) I made buildings out of inside-out food boxes and crayons. I used macaroni and cotton balls and legos and anything else I could find. In my own mind, it remains Smithsonian-worthy.
The heft of it made it hard to carry so, by the time I got to class, I dropped it on a desk, relieved to put it down. The noise got the attention of two unkind girls.
“What is this?” one asked.
“It’s my project!” I smiled, feeling a bit taller than usual.
“That’s not what we were supposed to do…” she responded with disgust. And then laughter. The kind of laughter that makes you shrink inside. And as I looked up, I noticed no other project in the room looked like mine. Not even close.
By the time Mr. Berard stood at my side, I stared at my shoes, my ears filled with the girls’ snickering.
I messed up. I couldn’t believe it. I had blown it. Again. What was wrong with me? How come I had to be the person I was?
Mr. Berard was quiet while the girls told him how wrong I was. I waited forever for him to speak. And when he finally did, he said, “Well…you didn’t follow the directions, so…”
I wanted to disappear.
“…I’m going to have to give you an A minus…”
The girls argued but he told them to go. My head rose slowly so I could look at his face to see if he was telling the truth. And we locked eyes. His smile was sad. I don’t even think I said thank you. I couldn’t say anything.
If he had followed a rubric as we use now, I would have failed. Maybe I deserved that. But he would have undone everything that Mr. Christy had accomplished the year before. Instead, he chose to see the child before the student. Because of this, I looked at him with gratitude in the months that followed and the student worked very hard for him. And…was always careful to read the directions.
THANK YOU, teachers and librarians, for your keen minds, your strong spines, and your broad hearts. Every day, you have the opportunity to shape the world in ways that few other professionals can. WE SALUTE YOU.
HUGE THANKS TO THE GENEROUS, TALENTED AUTHORS/ILLUSTRATORS who’ve donated their books for this giveaway. Of course, I couldn’t do this without each of you!
**Directions on how to enter are at the end of the post!
So, without further adieu…
And here are the SIGNED BOOKS!:
So a pretty cool line-up of signed picture books and novels, huh?
Okay–so to enter the SIGNED BOOKS Giveaway to win ALL of these books – THE KID LIT LOTTERY!!! ……
1) Make a comment on this blog about anything book-related, kid-related, something to inspire or make anyone reading this smile. 🙂 *Please provide twitter handle or e-mail address with your comment* Also, if you share elsewhere online (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) please let us know here.
2) Share to Twitter with the hashtag #AuthorsLoveTeachers (I know–long hashtag 🙂 But it will help us find your entry!) ***Please include link, if possible!
Rules: ***Giveaway ends on Thursday, February 21 at 11:59PM. Winner will be announced the following day.
1) This is to show our appreciation for teachers and librarians, specifically. Therefore, the winner MUST have a school mailing address and be presently employed at that school. (Sorry–only US or Canadian winners this time.)
***2) We know that teachers do not always get the appreciation they deserve. This giveaway is a reminder that WE appreciate you. Yes—we write the books, but YOU are in the trenches every day. YOU get the books into the hands of children. Together, we create life-long readers.
And for that…we are most grateful.