In the author’s chair: How a teacher turned her students’ aspirations into inspirational realities

At St. Lawrence Catholic School, a special education teacher was inspired by two of her students when they told her they wanted to become children’s story writers.

“Usually, student with learning disabilities don’t like to do much writing, so I wanted to encourage them. I thought maybe if they get to see some of their work in published form, they will be motivated to go on with this,” she said.

Susan Remedios, 49, a teacher at St. Lawrence elementary school, is responsible for the organization of author’s night that happened on April 19 in the gym of her school.

The gym was filled with students, parents, and teachers, all gathered to celebrate the publishing of the students’ literature. The books ranged from poetry to short stories and fiction that was produced by the students of the school.

“I came across studentreasures.com. It publishes children’s books for free (if the school meets a minimum requirement of 80 primary students participating),” she said.

Since November 2011, the entire student body has contributed stories, poems and short stories. Kids from kindergarten through Grade 3 had their material published in a compilation book, while kids from the fourth grade through eighth grade got to publish their own individual books.

Toni Lewis, 13, is one of the many students who published a book. It is titled What’s The Difference? and is a fictional story about two girls who act racist toward another girl in class.

“I asked my sister for ideas and she gave me some ideas on how I can write about racism. My best friend gave me ideas about the characters having a fight,” she said.

Toni recited her story in front of parents, students and teaching staff on author’s night. In addition to writing the story she also produced the art within the book.

“I doodle a lot,” she said. “Sometimes I draw Manga characters.”

That helps her write and share stories with other users of the application. She is currently working on two other stories.

Her father, Anthony Lewis, 50, is supportive of her writing and said that it has helped her be more independent.

“Sometimes she reads the story,” he said. “I try not to edit it too much because my sense of language is different from hers, and I find the minute I start to change it, it changes the whole feel of the story.

“She has a lot of written material, I looked at it and I think it’s very good quality, so I encourage her to write as much as possible when she gets too involved in the computer. I try to get her off it because it takes away from her creativity.”

Lewis used to write poetry when he was younger and encourages his daughter to do her own research.

Although she doesn’t know what she wants to do in the future, she said she has aspirations of being a part-time writer.

The general sense of all of this, as described by Remedios, is to really promote literacy among young children and help them get a sense of who they are as individuals so they can grow up to become more creative.

“We value their ideas,” she said. “We want to give them a sense that their ideas are being valued and that they are important.”