Every school I've had the privilege of speaking at has given me a great experience. Some have given me a great story, too.
“My First Alma Mater”
years: 2005, 2007
I was invited to speak at Norton Elementary in Cheshire, Connecticut—my elementary school. That’s the kind of thing that sure makes you question pride being one of the seven deadly sins.
(In this series, Norton will be the only school I’ll identify by name. My intention with this series is not to rank in the competitive sense but rather to reflect in a fresh way on a range of unexpected experiences I have had on the school visit circuit. I’m hoping to convey a sense of universality among authors and specifying schools could distract from that, plus it could make it seem like I’m slighting some schools when singling out others. However, in the recap posts I often write immediately after school visits, I do name names.)
Actually, Norton wasn’t my first alma matter; it was my third. But in most respects, it was my formative one, and the one I graduated from.
My 2005 presentation at Norton was the first time either my mom or my sister had seen my author presentation. Of lesser significance, my 2007 presentation marked the first time I used PowerPoint instead of a slide projector. (Yes, I know. But hey, I’ve had a web site since 1999. Does that make up for it?)
One student came up to me afterward and told me that I had been the answer to a question (rather the question to an answer) in the school’s customized version of the game show Jeopardy! (Please note that the exclamation point comes with the title; it is not punctuation I chose.) The topic: who created the school’s first mascot?
Another student, age 10, asked me if I knew a Lori Adams (name has been changed to protect the alumni). I said sure, I’d gone from Norton through high school with her. The girl burst into smile and said, "She’s my mommy!" That blew me away because Lori and I were the same age and my oldest child was only one at the time.
After my second Norton visit, the principal said the school was celebrating its 50th anniversary and was inviting back alumni to speak. She asked if I knew anyone (from any field) who might be interested. I e-mailed everyone from grade school I’m still in contact with. I was so hoping some of them would seize the opportunity.
After all, it’s not just authors who should be sharing their careers with elementary students.
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