On March 25 & 26th, Clint Small Middle and Rodriquez and Graham Elementary in Austin, through the wonderful Writers’ League of Texas Project WISE program, brought me into their schools to present my Author Visit.
When Maid Martha, Medieval Comedienne & Stand-Up Historian appears in period costume, Irish drum in hand with a great multi-media presentation, all the while, in Cockney accent, talking about Medieval ghosts, telling jokes and throwing in bits of Shakespeare here and there – it is not your usual author visit. And that’s why I do it. Schools love it and, most importantly, it fits right into my arts-in-education advocacy. I firmly believe that teaching should be cross-curriculum, three-dimensional, attention-getting, utilize all levels of the arts and, oh, bite my lip! Should I say it? Fun! Yes, fun and then it is, for the student, memorable. Over the past 20 years of doing this, I have seen the happy results many times over.
The proof is in the pudding. For example, Christina McGehee, the dynamo librarian at Graham Elementary invited me back for the second year. My author visit was a reward for her Royal Readers who had reached their teacher goals for reading. As Larry and I were setting up, several now-fifth graders approached us. All year long (including summer break) they had remembered a joke I had told them last year during my author visit – and still they were smiling. It was the one about Shakespeare and the pirates. Never underestimate elementary school students – it’s never too early to introduce a little Shakespeare here and there. They get it – if presented right – and at the right level for their age group.
In all three schools, the students and teachers were a joy to perform for and share information with. Their interest, enthusiasm and wonderful questions were a treat. Shelby Anderson at Rodriquez, Elizabeth Newell at Clint Small Middle and Christina are all very gracious librarians and do an incredible job with their students. It’s amazing what magic a good librarian with a great heart can do. It is their job to turn dust into diamonds and create a cozy, nurturing, safe place for those thirsty little (and sometimes not so little by middle school) minds to grow. Librarians should be thanked in all mothers’ prayers. And thank you, Clint Small Middle’s Chris Brooks for being a fine example of a great World History teacher!
I do have to share Christina’s kind words to us. “The students enjoyed it tremendously. It’s extremely gratifying to have a program where I’m confident that the students are learning and being entertained at the same time. …It was a relief to know that you and Larry would take care of everything so professionally.”