Reading Teacher, Michele Meyer, checked her email archives and realized it was almost exactly one year ago that we began an email correspondence. In March 2010, she had shared with me how her kids connected with Hattie Big Sky – they even had a Hats Off to Hattie week. We both made wishes on wishing rocks that I could somehow visit Botkins. . .and that wish came true today.
Michele picked me up at the Greatstone Castle (if you are ever in that part of Ohio, stay there! It’s an amazing place, being restored with great love and care) and we drove to the school. . .and then right past it because Michele said she needed to check something out. She’s so sneaky. . . what she wanted to check out was this warm welcome for me from a local business!
Then it was on to the school where I first met with the kinders, first, second and third graders. I talked to them about Two Bobbies and we had a great time.
They were sharp cookies when I asked them what kinds of questions they might have asked had they been setting out to write that book. Let me tell you, Mary and I could’ve used their help way back when. After the talk, it was their turn to teach me a few things, especially the Ohio State cheer. I got to be the “H.”
Before I knew it the 4th, 5th and 6th graders were filing in and we had a great chat about nonfiction, mostly about Nubs. I was impressed with their thoughtful questions after the presentation. Evidently, I hadn’t learned the Ohio cheer as well as I should’ve because this group gave me instruction as well. It was a lot of fun. Thank goodness for Josh who told me how to properly wear the Brutus the Buckeye hat!
Lunch was sandwiches in Mrs. Meyer’s Reading Room with students who had had their essays about why they should eat lunch with me selected by teacher judges. Mrs. Meyer thoughtfully gave me copies of the essays which I haven’t had time to read yet but look forward to reading on the plane ride home. While I noshed on my turkey and swiss, I was peppered with questions about my books – especially Hattie – and about writing.
This sharp group really illustrated to me how books can inspire careful and creative thinking even months after students read them. I could’ve stayed in Mrs. Meyer’s room, talking books with these great kids, for hours and hours.
|No matter which hallway I walked down, I saw a welcome sign!|
Finally, the last group of the day filed into the gym. 6th, 7th and 8th graders gathered and once again Mrs. Meyer gave me a warm introduction. When she asked the kids to welcome me with applause, they jumped to their feet and I received my first ever standing ovation – and I hadn’t yet uttered a word! I know I’ve said this before, but honestly, go into a public school and hang out for a while and you will be uplifted and encouraged.
|My standing “O”|
They say the third time is a charm and by the third time through, I think I had a pretty good handle on the Ohio State cheer. Now, I’m supposed to go out and buy a bunch of blue clothes, right? (Just kidding, Botkins’ friends. I know the only color to wear is red.)
What I loved most about my time in this small school was seeing kids taking on tons of responsibility and exceeding expectations in living up to those responsibilities. Everyone contributes here and that creates a sense of valuing each person’s contributions. One of the big blessings in my life is that Michele Meyer emailed me a year ago which led to being able to experience her energy and commitment firsthand.
|Michele Meyer, Ella, Sarah Brown, Aspen — Sarah first introduced Michele to Hattie Big Sky!|
|Parsley tasting 2010|
|“Parsley tasting” 2011|
It was hard to leave the school – kids kept wandering in to the Reading Room as I was signing books and wrapping up, just to say good-bye “one last time.”
|This Rooster Jim smells just fine!|
|My darling Perilee, aka Blake|
But leave I must as I was expected at Wright State University.
They have an amazing reading education masters at Wright State (Michele Meyer is a grad), with fearless leaders in Paula Bryan and Judy Brewer. Judy and I went toe-to-toe over whose dog was cuter, her Chuck or my Winston. As soon as she emails a photo, I’ll post it, along with one of Winston, and you can vote! These energetic women were a joy to spend the evening with. Imagine spending even more time with them, working on a masters’ in reading! They work very hard to set the foundation to help Ohio teachers go the extra reading mile. We all ignored the falling snow outside and had a great time together. I was so appreciative that my writing friend, Michelle Houts, was also there (with her darling daughter) and she graciously helped me answer the many questions at the end of my talk. If you have not yet read her book, The Beef Princess of Practical County, you need to!
All too soon, it was time to part company with Michele Meyer. The snow and cold cut short our good-bye hugs in the parking lot but that’s okay. I learned that she has an old high school friend in Seattle and so I expect to see her (and her basketball team of a family) sometime in the not too distant future. There are some people who are such an easy fit in one’s life and Michele is one of those. If you get to Botkins before I get back, look her up and give her a hug from me.
Tomorrow: presentations in Sidney and Fort Loramie!