Sorry to leave you all hanging about my big news.
I am still not sure if I want to post this now, or wait until Oct. 9th – which very well may be the day after the most exciting day of my teaching career.
Oh, where do I begin?
Let me set this up for you. As I posted here about a month ago, my class is reading the book Side-Yard Superhero: Life Lessons from an Unlikely Teacher by Rick Niece.
Back in the second week of school, when we were just three chapters into the book, I received an email from a coworker involved in the One Book, One Community program in our county.
Two days later, I stood on my drive-way on a blazing hot Friday afternoon, August 29th, to be exact. I was so nervous and so excited, but also determined.
I paced back and forth on the hot pavement. I took some deep breaths. I cleared my throat half a dozen times. I practiced what I had rehearsed I was going to say.
And then I dialed the number.
With some luck, I gained a much-needed moment to gain my composure when his wife answered, and then she promptly got Mr. Niece on the phone.
Mr. Rick Niece, the author of the book my students are reading…..On. The. Phone.
There I was, standing on my drive-way on a blazing hot Friday afternoon, August 29th, to be exact, and I had a conversation with Rick Niece.
I have replayed the conversation in my mind a million times and I cannot explain all of the feelings I was feeling as he asked me questions about my class and my teaching career. He applauded me for 19 years as a special education teacher.
He asked me if I liked to write, and he shared that he preferred writing what he knew over fiction, and I told him how fiction simply eludes me. He told me about his career in education and his background with special education programs at the university level.
He told me he typically spoke with creative writing classes, but before we hung up, we had a plan in place.
Mr. Niece will be coming to visit MY students in MY classroom.
My Resource Room students, who are unable to read at grade level, who do not like to read…..are going to meet not only the author of this book, but a CHARACTER from this book.
Coined an “automythography,” the book is the story of Rickie’s life growing up in a small town and the friendship he had with one special boy.
My students are going to meet a man who knew every single one of the characters in this book. He knew them, he talked to them, he helped them, and he learned from them.
These “characters,” who made such an impact on his life, are now part of our daily lives.
My students may ask about shy Miss Lizzie Moore, her pumpkin bread, and the unopened letters on her table.
My students may ask about eccentric Fern Burdette and faithful Duke.(I just know one of them will!)
My students may ask to hear the tale of Frank Tully eating all those hamburgers.
My students may ask about dear, old Mary Waite or firefly-a-phobic Danny Coonzy.
My students can ask all the questions they’ve been dying to ask about Bernie Jones.
Or maybe they’ll ask about one of the characters we haven’t even met yet. We are only on Ch. 15!
Since the day I shared the initial email with my class, this story and these characters have come to life.
And soon we will finish the book. I can only imagine how that might go.
Mr. Niece’s one request was that we finish the book before he came to visit; he felt it was important.
I said I would try my best. (You know I will!)
I am beyond excited for this unexpected and unprecedented event that is going to happen in the lives of 21 students I care a great deal about.
To be able to share this experience with them, to be able to remind them every single day that we have a goal to meet, that we must finish this book, picture these scenes, connect with these characters, and prepare for a very special guest, it brings me so much joy.
To see them reading, to hear them making connections, to know they are anticipating….
October 8th will be a big moment in a small classroom, and as a teacher, an avid reader, and a wannabe writer, it will be a day I will never forget.