If you follow me on one of social media sites, then you have likely seen photos from one of my recent school visits. I’ve had the privilege to attend many different schools, and grades, to speak with the kids about writing, share my stories with them, and to collaborate on projects with them. It has been such a joy and delight to see their excitement about reading, writing and illustrating blossom into something bigger than I ever imagined. I’ve had many of you ask to see pictures of visits and to share my stories. That is what I will be doing in this week’s blog!
I wanted to share my experiences from two recent school visits. While I have worked with hundred’s of students this past school year, I am going to focus mainly on two events. Family Literacy Night, and STEAM into Summer Family Night. In case you are not familiar with the acronym STEAM, it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.
(I do apologize, some of these photos may be a tad blurry as they were taken by other individuals then shared with me)
Both of these events were similar, focusing on families and educating children in a fun exciting way. Multiple vendors attended each event, and the total in attendance exceeded the expectations of the schools involved. Each event was utter chaos and complete success! I loved loved loved every moment of them! I enjoy working personally with the student’s and hearing their imaginative tales, watching their creative side take spark is so exciting. As adults, we have a tendency to hold ourselves back. We tend to overthink things. But not kids. They have an idea, and run with it! I remember one story was about how spicy sausage was the superior pizza topping! Another girl spent 45min at my station detailing the first two pages of her book The Princess that Found the Lost Village.
Each event was also unique. The first one I attended was focusing solely on the importance of literacy. Galarza Elementry even had guest speakers to address the importance of reading and writing, and how parents are the first teachers and play a vital role both in school and at home. Since I was the only author to attend the event, I was asked to give a short speech to the audience about writing and how I feel about it. I will be honest, that was harder than I expected it would be. Not giving the speech, I’m used to public speaking, it’s a part of my religious organization. We give talks in front of audiences, so that is something I’m very comfortable with. The challenge was I would be addressing both children and their parent’s at the same time. I needed to tailor my speech so it would be relatable to both age groups. Figuring out not just what, but also how to say it and keeping it between 3-4 minutes was the challenge. I will share my speech at the end of the blog, and please share your comments on it!
I was humbled and honored when they asked me to cut the ribbon for the new author’s corner of their library. The students would use this area to leave copies of stories they have written so others can come and read what they created. Teachers would use this area to display well-written books by their students. It was an honor to be apart of this special moment.
The STEAM event was my favorite of the two events. I know, I know, like parent’s we shouldn’t have favorites, but I did. I will explain why. While I loved and enjoyed the excitement of Literacy Night and would love to have the privilege to attend again, Family STEAM Night allowed me to work with my hubby and two very close gal pals. Being able to share one of my passions with my husband was something truly unique that I never expected to have the chance to share with him in this way. STEAM Night was hosted by the Campbell Unified School District and centered on parent involvement. They specifically wanted activities that parents could participate in alongside their youngsters. They wanted vendors who would be able to show the families how STEAM is a part of everyday life. My husband David is a general contractor, so he was teaching how design, engineering, and math are vital to construction. He helped the families learn to build their own derby cars as a way to teach this lesson.
My pal Michelle is an electrical engineer. She taught the children about currents, and then showed them how to build their own circuit! My friend Bleysyka was the brains behind the operation. She helped put this entire event together!
What did I do? Isn’t it obvious? I wrote stories with the kids! I taught them the key elements that make up stories. I explained to the parents why I chose to write a STEAM series, how I wanted to encourage more girls to look into the STEAM field, and realize that learning can be more than just facts regurgitated at you in a textbook, but that it can be fun and imaginative too!
Living in the Tech Capital of the world, Silicon Valley is the gold standard for tech. So you can bet your dollar that a STEAM district like Campbell pulled out all of the stops for this event. We had the computer history museum in attendance (who remembers when Furbys first came out? They had an original one with them!) individuals from Google who took the students on a virtual reality school field trip, and individuals who worked at Moffet Field just to name a few. It was a complete success with 400 people who attended when only 200 were projected.
Each event left me on cloud 9! I was feeling a surge of adrenaline and excitement, it wasn’t until much later that night I realized how incredibly tired I was after being there for several hours. I have loved each school function I have attended this past school year, from the intimate classroom visits to the big school functions. It was pure joy!
Here is the speech I gave at Galarza to encourage future young writers. Please, share your thoughts in the comments below!
All of us have a story to tell. A story can be about anything, a favorite toy, a family vacation, something that scares us, or even why blue is better than pink. When we write, we are sharing a piece of ourselves with the world, we’re telling them a secret we want to share. This can be exciting, and sometimes scary.
When I first started writing I was scared. I didn’t want to share my stories with anyone, other than my niece and nephew who were the reason I started writing, to begin with. But as time went on, it became less scary and more exciting. Eventually, this path I took led me to become a published author with four books. What started off as a gift for my niece and nephew turned into a gift I can share with all kids.
I love to write, and I’m able to share my love of writing with children through my stories. The Adventures of Lorenzo the Bear that teaches friendship and helping others, and Exploring STEAM with Little Katie that teaches kids about science. I write what I love, what excites me, I write until I miss it when I stop writing.
So, in conclusion, I challenge all of you to write. Write what is in your heart, write what moves you, what excites you. All of us have a story to tell, make sure you tell the world your story. You never know where the road of writing will take you!