What a delight it was to see that philosophy played out to the hilt at Pedro Menendez High in St. Augustine, Florida last week. My young adult book series, The St. Augustine Trilogy, takes place in that old city and I was invited to speak to a gathering of students.
This school has developed a quarterly program where they do the most wonderful thing. They ask the reading teachers to select students to be rewarded for classroom excellence by attending a breakfast in the library. The total number of kids was 30.
For students, of course, anytime they can cut loose from class is a good thing. But in this case, they get fed, honored and they even receive a gift in the process. They are allowed to bring one guest, and best of all, their gift is a book of current interest to teens. To top it off, students get to meet the author of the book and hear her/him talk their literary efforts and life experiences.
Coordinating this extraordinary quarterly effort are two exceptional educators, Media Specialist Kate Neff and Reading Coach, Dr. Shara Holt. These two ladies make a dynamic duo and really get the job done in a warm yet extremely professional way. In fact, the three of us conspired to find a way to personalize my books that were to be given away yet not make the students late for their next class.
Our solution came in the form of book plates. (I use Avery 3 1/3″ x 4″ labels that include my publishing logo). A week before the program, Kate and Shara emailed the first names of all the students. That allowed me to enter those names onto the plates, along with a brief message and my signature. I brought the plates with me to the presentation and Shara inserted them into the books while I was speaking. The actual book distribution came just before the bell rang for class change.
And what a joy it was to speak to those kids. They were attentive, courteous and seemed delighted to get their book copies. I’m telling you what, that entire event was a testimony to how one school with an innovative and dedicated staff can do exceptional things. Congratulations Shara, Kate and Pedro Menendez High School. You all are great and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
To find out more about the first book in The St. Augustine Trilogy that was given to students, click here.
To find out more about Pedro Menendez High School, click here.
To see how another school actually used this book in Intensive Reading classes, click here.