What could possibly be more fun than visiting with a bunch of 4th grade students about writing poetry? Visiting with a bunch of 4th grade students at David Harrison Elementary School. And that’s what I’ll be doing this afternoon.
Next week when AND THE BULLFROGS SING comes out from Holiday House I’ll pay a visit to the student body at Harrison for a while to hear kids read their own writing and read from the new book, but today I’ll have the three 4th grade classes all to myself in the cafeteria and we’ll talk about poetry. How sweet is that?
Yesterday I mailed my check for a ticket to this year’s Teacher Appreciation Banquet, which is always attended by 800-1,000 teachers, family, and supporters of public education. It has been held every year since 1994. Nancy Graff and I organized the original banquet. I was master of ceremonies from 1994-2000 and guest speaker in 2001. The date this year is April 15 and will be held at Oasis Convention Center in Springfield. Tickets are $35, which includes a silent auction featuring designer wear, gift baskets, movie passes, tasty treats, and much more. There will also be a performance from the cast of Kickapoo High School’s theatre production of “Into the Woods.” Tickets can be purchased from Foundation for Springfield Public Schools, 1331 Boonville, 65802. Maybe I’ll see you there!
This year I’ll have the pleasure of sitting at the table with teachers and staff from David Harrison Elementary School and rooting for Harrison art teacher Kevin Zimmerman, one of the five finalists for Teacher of the Year. If he wins, Kevin will be the second teacher from Harrison who has held that honor. The delightful teacher in the picture is Dawn Licata who teaches second grade at Harrison. She and her students made valuable contributions to 7 KEYS TO RESEARCH FOR WRITING SUCCESS, the 2018 Scholastic book I co-wrote with Mary Jo Fresch. The picture was snapped at the 2016 banquet and I don’t recall why I was suddenly sporting a beard and long face, but it must have been fun!
The banquet has a life of its own now and is in the capable hands of others. These days I get to wear my special tie, which I’ve worn to every banquet since the beginning, and take quiet pleasure in watching teachers enjoying themselves on the evening set aside to honor them and remind the community of the vital role they play in our lives.
When I went to visit The Living Museum on Monday at David Harrison Elementary School, here is one of the students who read about me, wrote a script, memorized it, and performed it flawlessly when I touched the “activation” sticker on his hand. His name is Brendin. His hair was brushed and he wore a nice dress shirt and tie. I was impressed! I don’t have pictures of the other two students who chose me so I’m sorry not to introduce them too. For now, though, and with thanks to his teacher Scotty Kujath, here is Brendin!
I received this note from Roxie McQuarry, 4th grade teacher at David Harrison Elementary School: “One of my students has chosen you as his Famous Missourian (for the school’s Living Museum Event at 9:00 this morning). He will dress up as you and give a speech as if he is you. It’s a neat presentation.”
Rounding to the nearest nanosecond, how long do you think it took me to accept Roxie’s invitation? And now I understand that Julee Curry’s class may have a David Harrison in it, too. I’m on my way! I’ll let you know later how it went. But I’m already smiling!
P.S. I don’t know what to wear.