When I was a schoolboy, like every other schoolboy and girl, I was subject to numerous assemblies. We would all line up, (in kindergarten holding hands with a girl and then in sixth grade wishing we still held hands with the girls) and with "our best behavior" we would find our way down to the gym, where someone would either entertain and educate or frankly they wouldn't. The truth is, most of those assemblies I saw were boring and forgettable, but two of them stand out in my mind to this day and in their own ways those assemblies formed, shaped and changed a part of my direction and path. One was actually an author who was funny and made me want to read (soon after I began my first chapter book series with excitement and have never stopped reading them) and the other a group of prisoners who came and told us their personal and raw stories of what drugs did to lead them each down the wrong path. I remember one man, who looked a bit like my dad catching my attention because of the likeness (envisioning perhaps what my dad, an accomplished English Professor might have been if he had chosen this man's direction) and then holding my attention with his stories of horror and sadness and lost potential. That was in sixth grade and the next year as I entered the "scary world" of Junior High I was given several opportunities to partake in illegal substances and because of that assembly alone I refused. I have been to hundreds and hundreds of schools sharing my stories and whenever I prepare to visit a school, as I pull up into the parking lot I remember those two assemblies that made a difference and an impact on me and I set my mind on one goal for that day; LEAVE SOMETHING IMPORTANT AND GOOD BEHIND!
In my quest to spread encouragement, fun and lots and lots of stories I have begun to ask teachers to video her or his impressions of what I do for other educators to evaluate, who might be considering a visit from me. After all, it is what THEY think about my impact that matters. With two main goals in mind presently (anti bullying story and getting those hard to reach non readers to read) I am planning a coast to coast reader-writer-nomorebullies-thon by doing school visits). My books Go Ask Mom and the sequels are my tools to make the stories last and to further the impression.
This past week I had an AWESOME time in a school in Colorado Springs called Frontier Elementary School. I spent the day with the K-5 storytelling and doing creative writing workshops with them. Then I stayed for their evening event with other artists, parents, kiddoes and told more stories, trying to encourage the parents to share their own life stories with there children. It was a fun day and we agreed that I WILL BE BACK! These video clips and photos chronicle one of my favorite school days!
The two women in the videos in front of the "tree" are lovely, gracious, hospitable fourth grade teachers who made me feel very welcome while visiting Frontier.
Then I asked the Principal and Vice Principal if they would lend their voices and they did! Great people all of them!