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Often educators’ creativity spills over into a book, blog, app or other work. We’re happy to showcase members’ talents.

Navigating college
admissions stress

Sweet Appeal finds high-achieving high school senior Leo Iskrine struggling under the pressures of college admissions and others’ lofty expectations for him. Author Michael J. Steele, an Elk Grove Education Association member and high school math teacher, captures the intense stress many seniors experience. But the novel also reassures young people that things can turn out all right even when they don’t go according to plan. Younger students and families can use the book to help develop healthy mindsets about college admissions before the process starts to influence self-worth and damage relationships. On Amazon.

The newcomer experience

René Colato Laínez is a bilingual teacher at Fernangeles Elementary School in LA County, where he is known as “the teacher full of stories.” The El Salvador-born educator and UTLA member has written multiple, award-winning bilingual children’s books such as My Shoes and I/ Mis zapatos y yo and Mamá the Alien/ Mamá la extraterrestre. His new book, Do I Belong Here?/ ¿Es este mi lugar?, explores the experiences of newcomers in U.S. schools, from the first days of confusion and alienation to the gradual understanding of language and customs and making of new friends. On Arte Público Pres and Amazon.

Lessons on how to grow up

In this 2021 book, CTA/NEA-Retired member Chip Fraser takes on the deeper meaning within The Wizard of Oz — the need for children who are now adults to become grownups. With humor and wit, Fraser’s “lessons” on how to grow up include learning to live in the present, ceasing to criticize others, eating healthy (mostly), smiling regularly, exercising patience, practicing meditation, and volunteering whenever possible. A California educator for almost 30 years and former president of Ventura Unified Education Association, Fraser wrote the script for the 2020 movie Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate’s Cove. On Amazon.

Poems Deeply Personal and Universal

Hanford Secondary Educators Association member Genevieve Galvan Frenes is a 26-year teacher who has just published Hearts In The Classroom. The book is a poetry collection of student and teacher images before, during and after COVID, and offers genuine reflections of everyday students from an educator’s perspective. Hearts is dedicated to working and retired teachers in the Central Valley and to Frenes’ colleagues at Hanford High and throughout the school district. On Amazon.

A Teacher’s Heart

A teacher’s heart
Gathers the remnants of each child.
She tucks the stories, the smiles,
And many times, the sorrows,
Into the layers of a delicate organ:
Her heart,
To warm her and remind her
That she is gifted by each child
Making them an added blessing
To her soul.

Delving into the vast chambers of her heart,
She finds everlasting joys,
Which surpassed exceeding obstacles
And still remain strong.
She witnesses the ragged edges of muscle,
Torn and tattered in spots,
Where harsh words of meanness caused suffering,
She sees the strength
Of the fast-moving beat of the pumping blood
As it worked for endless hours,
Unpaid and unseen.

Her heart is a treasure,
An amazing organ buried deep within her
Holding its secret grail:
To serve children in only her way.
It has grown a thousand times over
Since the first student
Stepped into her room.

A teacher’s love
Extends from its encompassing experiences,
And its lifelong-learning mode.
Resilience and courage
Carry her through each year
With a new set of students,
Whom she chooses to love
And guide in her unique way
And method of teaching.

Her heart,
With its cherished memories,
Will beat on enduringly
In the lives
Of her students.

—Genevieve Galvan Frenes

Fear the Dentist!

What terrible secret does Dr. Sharp hide behind his shiny smile? Eleven year- old Jase and his new friend Braxton come to believe the dentist and his assistant have kidnapped two young patients and brainwashed their parents
into thinking their children have gone to “Colorado.” But if the missing middle-schoolers aren’t there, where could they be? UTLA member and author Evan Baughfman, a middle school theater and creative writing teacher, has published his first novel, Bad for Your Teeth. On Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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