Twenty Surprises and Successes in 2020

I have joined the 12 Days of Christmas with Julie Hedlund Facebook group for writers, and on Day 2 of the 12-day challenge we were asked to share 2020 surprises with the group, and on Day 3 to post our 2020 successes on our blogs.  I decided to combine the two and post both on my blog – it is a list that includes a combination of personal and professional surprises and successes, and isn’t in chronological (or alphabetical) order. 

  1. When my youngest child turned 18 in February, I became the proud mama of four young adults.  It is surprising how fast 18 years flies by – my sweet little baby became a beautiful young woman in the blink of an eye – just as her three older siblings before her (well, my two baby boys became handsome young men).
  2. I was invited to join the Board of Trustees of the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County. I am very excited to be part of this wonderful group that supports the good work of our public library system.
  3. I am on the planning committee of the Gaithersburg Book Festival, and coordinate the workshops for children and teens. We successfully converted our amazing one-day hometown festival into a month-long virtual event.
  4. I was able to invest in several professional development opportunities throughout the year: ALA eCourse Leading from the Library, Maryland State Department of Education’s Teaching Online in Maryland, shadow facilitator for another MSDE course, and trained to teach literacy using the Orton-Gillingham multisensory method.
  5. In August I decided to take the plunge and invest in my dream of becoming a children’s author and joined Storyteller Academy.  The courses and instructors have been so informative, helpful, and inspiring!  I am thankful for Kathy Halsey, a fellow school librarian, and my critique group, too. 
  6. I have also joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and am excited for their upcoming Winter Conference!
  7. I have written five picture book manuscripts and started submitting to agents and publishers.
  8. I have participated in one pitch party #PitMad and got a couple of hearts.
  9. I presented Leading from the Library at the Montgomery County Public School – School Library Media Program annual professional day and at the Maryland Association of School Librarians annual conference.
  10. I am the lead teacher for our school’s CARES Enrichment Program, which provides free tutoring for students who need a little help building their confidence with reading.
  11. Despite the pandemic, I was able to get to the beach twice this summer – Old Orchard Beach in Maine and Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. Putting my feet into the sand and feeling the power of the ocean revives my soul. While in Maine, I got to lie down on the beach, listening to the roar of the ocean waves, as I watched the Perseids meteor shower. Magical!
  12. I was again able to be a mentor for the NEED Project / Exelon STEM Innovation + Leadership Academy for teen girls, and helped create a series of professional skills workshops.
  13. In addition to my library media lessons, I have hosted monthly Zoom bedtime read alouds for my students. I strive to build a community of readers and dreamers!
  14. I have been able to participate in three Zoom meetings at once – using three different emails and devices.  Wouldn’t have been able to do this in person!
  15. I have attended virtual workshops and conferences that I wouldn’t have been able to attend during a typical school year.  Notables were KidLit Rally 4 Black Lives, Empowering Educators Conference with Jason Reynolds and the Mazza Weekend Conference.
  16. I have lost track of how many children’s books I have read this year, but because of the pandemic and distance learning, I have been able to spend more time walking my dog and listening to adult fiction and nonfiction as well as middle grade novels. I am constantly in awe of the amazing new books that are published each year.
  17. I have been able to spend more time taking care of myself – eating healthy and exercising – and finally taking care of some medical issues that I had been putting off for a very long time.
  18. My flower beds (wildflowers, daisies, and peonies) were just beautiful this year, and my mammoth sunflowers grew to 12-14 feet tall in my little backyard sunflower patch!
  19. I have had more time to build and nurture relationships with my friends and colleagues.
  20. My family and I were able to stay connected via video chat, text, and Zoom calls.  And the occasional socially-distant face-to-face visits.

My goals this year are to continue helping others, continue letting my creativity flow, continue challenging myself, and continue spending time with friends and family. Here I come, 2021!

Osiyo Native American Heritage Month

Osiyo (hello in Cherokee)!

During the month of November – Native American Heritage Month and Picture Book Month – my lessons focused on the beautiful picture books Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal),  We are Gratitude: Otsaligeliga by Traci Sorell (illustrated by Frané Lessac), and We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom (illustrated by Michaela Goade).  It is incredibly important to share books that serve as windows, mirrors, and sliding doors, and I strive to help my students find text-to-life connections with all books.

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story  is a lovely book about the importance of fry bread by explaining it in terms of the senses – how it feels, tastes, looks, smells, and sounds.  The ample backmatter further explains how “the story of fry bread is the story of the American Indians: embracing community and culture in the face of opposition.” My Fry Bread lesson includes an author interview, recipe video, read aloud, and discussion questions. 

We are Gratitude: Otsaliheliga takes the reader through a year of seasons, beginning and ending with the season of uligohvsdi (fall/autumn) the Cherokee New Year.  This story reminds us to be grateful every day,  in every month, in good times, and in sad times. My We Are Gratitude lesson includes not only an interview with Traci, but a read aloud video, and information about pileated woodpeckers, stomp dancing, and cane flutes.

We Are Water Protectors is a powerful book about the need to safeguard Earth’s water supply.  The artwork by Michaela Goade is stunning! I loved her art so much I found her Etsy store and ordered her beautiful Moonrise print. My We Are Water Protectors lesson includes a read aloud by the author and lots of additional information that helps students understand the importance of water to Indigenous people (and all of us!) and about the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Additional resources that may be helpful to readers of my blog:

Carole Lindstrom

Book Reading & Interview: https://youtu.be/2YHaRmj9wLU

Children’s Book Podcast:  https://www.matthewcwinner.com/post/carole-lindstrom-and-michaela-goade

Website:http://www.carolelindstrom.com/

Emily Arrow

Read Aloud & Song https://youtu.be/OmsGDCimLK8

Frané Lessac

Website: https://franelessac.com/

Juana Martinez-Neal

Interview: https://youtu.be/ghu66fEFVHI

Interview: https://youtu.be/-ZVTdxFgRRE

Website: https://juanamartinezneal.com/

Kevin Noble Maillard

Children’s Book Podcast: https://lgbpodcast.libsyn.com/kevin-noble-maillard-and-juana-martinez-neal

Interview: https://youtu.be/ocPWdWPiCgs

Virtual Storytimes: https://youtu.be/ZGoPq2CeJdw and  https://youtu.be/od-7XLABK2o

Michaela Goade 

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MichaelaGoade

Website: https://www.michaelagoade.com/

TeachingBooks 

Website:  https://www.teachingbooks.net/

Traci Sorell 

Interview: https://youtu.be/qsIxsPDOVoA

Website: https://www.tracisorell.com/

Wado (thank you) for reading my blog, and donadagohvi (until we meet again).