[This is reprinted from April 10, 2011]
Many of the school programs I’m presenting during the winter and spring of 2011 are funded through grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC). In a tough economic climate, when school enrichment budgets are shrinking to non-existence, it’s wonderful that the MCC provides schools across the state with the funding they need to offer educational and inspirational programs that complement and enrich classroom curriculum. Below are some of the programs funded in whole or part by the MCC.
During January and February, I spent four days working with students in grades K-5 at Peirce Elementary in Arlington, in an author-in-residence writing workshop. K-3 worked on poetry, while grades 4 and 5 wrote an original scene to add to my book, The Grey Ghost, which the students had read. Student work was showcased in a Literacy Night held on March 4. This program was funded by the Arlington Cultural Council and the Peirce Elementary PTO.
On March 4, I presented an author talk to the 7th grade at Veteran’s Middle School in Marblehead, tying the research behind my book, Through the Eyes of a Raptor, to the elements of fiction. It was a great example of why research is so important for writing, even when a story isn’t true. On March 16, I returned to Veteran’s and had an author lunch with fifteen students who’d received copies of my book and were reading it as a book club. This program was funded by the Marblehead Cultural Council and the Marblehead Public Schools’ Arts Council.
I worked with the 4th grade classes of Swampscott’s Stanley School on March 21, showing students how to enliven their writing by incorporating storytelling elements in their long compositions (in preparation for the MCAS Long Composition Test.) I return to the school on April 15 to present a nature talk to grades 1 and 2, and an author talk to grades 3 and 4. These visits are funded by the Swampscott Cultural Council and the Stanley School PTA.
On April 8, I presented my author program to the 5th grade of Athol/Royalston Middle School in Athol, MA. The school received a classroom set of 30 copies of The Grey Ghost last fall through a private donation, and the 5th grade students read the book in class. Following my grade-wide presentation, I visited each classroom where I held a book-club style discussion of the story with students. The books were provided through a private donation and the author visit was funded by the Athol Cultural Council.
I’ll visit E. Brookfield Elementary in E. Brookfield, MA on April 13 where I’ll work with 4th grade classes. The school purchased a classroom set of The Grey Ghost, which 4th grade students have read in their library classes. I’ll present my author program to the entire grade, and then meet with each class and hold a discussion and author Q&A with students. The book purchase and author visit are funded through private donation and a grant from the E. Brookfield Cultural Council.
On April 28 I’ll work with the creative writing students at Wareham High School and speak to the 8th grade at Wareham Middle School in Wareham, MA. Both schools will also receive library sets of The Grey Ghost. My visit and the sets of books are funded by the Wareham Cultural Council and by private donation.
I’ll be working with 8th grade students at Triton Middle School during May in a five-day author-in-residence program teaching them the elements of fiction. This project is jointly funded by the Cultural Councils of Newbury, Rowley, and Salisbury, and by Triton Middle School.
Many thanks to the Mass Cultural Council, to each of these local cultural councils, to all the private donors, PTO/PTA’s, and schools for making these programs possible for so many students. Inspiring a love of reading, writing, and literacy is a magical gift to give a child!