Tag Archives: Masks

Visiting Crestline Elementary School

Crestline Elementary School visitI wrote a book—AN AUTHOR’S 30 YEARS OF SCHOOL VISITS.
The subtitle:  You don’t have to come back…you just have to go out.
Well, now I guess I’ll have to update the book!

A few weeks ago I had an awesome visit at Crestline Elementary School in Birmingham, Alabama.  This is a National Blue Ribbon of Excellence School with 800 students and some fine teachers and administration.

The school is settled in an elbow of streets in a charming brick village of shops and outdoor cafes.  My daughter, Michele, drove me over and we enjoyed that time together. The night before the visit we were hosted in a lovely home to a fine dinner by those who had organized this annual Literary Heritage Festival for the kids.  I autographed a load of books as I munched on kale salad, luscious chicken, stone ground cheese grits, and lemon bars. Back at my hotel, I found flowers, endless sweet gifts, and a precious book of letters from the students.

But the big deal was the next day.  We kicked things off by having an unexpected evacuation of the school! Seems the school guinea pig munched on a wire…and set off an alarm, so we enjoyed a moment of sunshine on the playground before the real event began.

If you’ve never spoked to 800 kids in 4 big batches in a day, you might think it sounds like an exhausting chore. But it’s more like an invigorating joy!  Each group flooded the gym or auditorium and sat criss-cross-applesauce on the floor, as close to me as they could, eager faces staring at me like I was a rock star, hands already raised, fingers wagging, hoping to ask a question of a “real live author.”

What I love to see is how they bring my books to life.  The fourth grade classes, for example, had lined their hallway with beautiful creative masks, hand punched in a gold or sliver material, some adorned with colorful feathers.  They had read THE MISSING MASK MYSTERY.
I spoke, read, laughed, teased, and answered all the questions I could.  We had lunch with the staff, ate cookies at every break, and I wondered how teachers lived and worked at this pace each day!  It was ever so much fun.  I like to think I inspire, change some lives, give some meaning to what it means to be a writer—but it’s the kids, our future, who change my life each school visit, inspire, and give meaning to why I write.