Often educators’ creativity spills over into a book, blog, app or other work. We’re happy to showcase members’ talents.
“I Am Powerful!”
Speech language pathologist, author and UTLA/ NEA member Angela Adley has a new book, I Am Powerful, and So Are You, the first in a unique series to promote self-help, self-esteem and confidence in children K–3. One primary exercise for readers demonstrates how superpowers are voice activated, starting with the words “I am” in your statement and concluding with the word “now” (for example, “I am… great at math…now!”). Writing these statements down is also a powerful tool to unlock the biggest desires of our hearts —something we can all learn. At Archway Publishing and Amazon.
Adventures of Seraphina
CTA/NEA-Retired member Aaron Hall, who spent 20+ years teaching, writes children’s books under the pen name Hannah Hope. His books feature a central biracial character named Seraphina whose stories focus on topics of interest for young readers in grades 3-8. In “Seraphina in Ukraine” (2022), Seraphina looks at how she — and you and your friends — can help the war-torn nation. In “Planet Seraphina at an Observatory” (2022), she and her friends are saving Earth and invite you to help them. “Seraphina and the Tail-Waggers: A Sensitive Heart Book for Kids” (2023) explores “people’s best friends.” On Amazon and other booksellers.
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.
Professor Turned Author
Jacqueline Wall retired as a Chaffey College professor in 2015. Since then, the CTA/NEA-Retired member has published two self-help books based on her life experiences. A Happy Kid Is Not a Bully is a guilt-free plan for parents’ greatest legacy, with tips, steps and suggestions to raise a happy kid, not a bully. I’m Prettier Than That depicts how Wall survived domestic violence, and how others can end abusive relationships. Both are on Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
Memoir of A Teacher
Hannah Lynn Demerson spent 34 years as an educator and has written a memoir of her experiences showing what it’s really like to be a public high school teacher. The CTA/NEA-Retired member, whose grandmother and mother were educators as is her daughter now, hopes I Barely Got Here! Can I Make It in Teaching? appeals to young people considering a career in public education. Veteran teachers will see themselves in her stories, and the general reader will gain insights into educators’ lives and work. “You never know until you have classes of your own just how much your students can surprise, terrify, and delight you,” Demerson says. “We need more great teachers to meet the challenges of the 21st century! These stories may help you understand the depth and complexity of a noble profession.” On Amazon.
December 2022/January 2023
Victoria Smith, a CTA/NEA Retired member, has written Tuxedo Baby, the story of a lonely Magellanic penguin from Chile adopted by cherry-head conure parrots. The loving parents welcome him into their home, and he tries hard to please them. More than anything, Tuxedo Baby wants to fly like they and his conure friends at school do, but he is the only bird who can’t fly. Then — a surprise…. A story of unconditional love and acceptance for grades K-3. On Amazon.
An Epic Fantasy
A dark plot unfolds in the western lands of the Kingdom of Swordbane with the formation of an unholy alliance, deliberate spread of a deadly affliction, and a newly conspired war on the horizon. Swordbane, just published by Riverside County Office Teachers Association member Paul Emerick, incorporates aspects of current events (a pandemic, ending a long military occupation in a distant country, social unrest, historical revisionism) in a fantasy-based story geared for adults and young adults. Readers will reflect on the causation and prevention of events, including war; flawed heroes; and complex villains. On Amazon, Barnes & Noble.
Inside a Poet’s Head
Elmo Kelley, a member of Fontana Teachers Association, has been an elementary school teacher in Fontana Unified for 24 years. But he started writing poetry 30 years ago as a way to express his feelings and deal creatively with life issues. In January Kelley published Traveling Through My Mind: Volume 1, a collection of poems covering subjects such as the current pandemic, schooling, the trials and tribulations of relationships, and more. He invites readers to “strap on your seatbelt and enjoy the journey.” On Amazon.
Kathleen Canrinus, a CTA/NEA Retired member, retired from teaching in 2007 and spent the next 10 years learning to write. The now 77-year-old’s debut memoir, The Lady with the Crown: A Story of Resilience, explores how unforeseen trauma can instantly transform a normal happy family into a uniquely wounded one. When Canrinus was 15, her mother barely survived a car accident. Brain damage on top of inevitable mother-daughter friction almost guaranteed an end to a loving connection. Yet as Canrinus married, had children and became her mother’s caregiver and conservator, their bond endured and grew. The book charts not only their resilience and courage but also Canrinus’ indomitable pursuit and reinvention of joy. Themes that high school students could relate to: mother-daughter dynamics, relating to someone with memory deficits, and facing adversity. On Amazon.
Tales of Upheaval, Mindfulness
Tina Athaide is a 30-year educator who works at Santa Rosa Academy, a newly unionized charter school in Menifee. Her debut as a writer was Orange for the Sunsets (grades 6-7), an award-winning book inspired by her childhood in Uganda. It follows two friends, Asha (Asian Indian) and Yesofu (African Ugandan), who’ve never cared about their differences until Idi Amin announces that Indians have 90 days to leave the country. As tensions between Indians and Africans intensify, the pair find that nothing seems sure — not even their friendship. Could the bravest thing of all be to let each other go?
Athaide has also published Meena’s Mindful Moment (grades pre-K–2), a picture book with illustrations by Åsa Gilland. Meena is a rambunctious child whose energy becomes an imaginary character she calls her hurly-burly hullabaloo. But when Meena makes a mess, her grandfather teaches her how to handle it with deep breaths and meditative poses.
Both books are on multiple outlets online. Athaide offers activity guides and other teaching resources at tinaathaide.com.
St. Patrick’s Day Prankster
Each year during the month of March up until the Irish holiday, Lucky the Leprechaun comes to visit children at school and at home. Lucky creates magic by hiding toys, leaving messages and surprises, and even making messes while no one is looking. Lucky the Leprechaun on the Loose, by first grade teacher Maria Thompson, Walnut Creek Teachers Association, started as a tradition in her classroom. A little leprechaun figurine would intermittently move around the classroom, then on March 17 students would arrive to a “mess” (chairs tilted, confetti on the floor, etc.), with personalized messages and treats on their desks from Lucky. A fun read for children everywhere. On Amazon.
After the Storm
In 2017 Adam Holland, Hart District Teachers Association, wrote a “Your Voice” column for the Educator about his battle with and recovery from brain cancer, and the support he received from his colleagues and students. The National Board Certified AP history teacher shared his story in Anchored in the Storm, describing how his Christian faith sustained him during the darkest and most difficult times in life. This year Holland published a companion book, Anchored to the Son, continuing the theme of how his faith brings calm and peace when life returns after a trial or suffering. On Amazon.
My Life With Rosie
Angela Sadler Williamson, associate professor at Rio Hondo College and member of the Rio Hondo College Faculty Association, published My Life With Rosie: A Bond Between Cousins last year. Voted the best children’s book on Black history by Mothering magazine, it shares a different side of Rosa Parks only known to her family — the Williamson family.
Parks spent most of her adult life living in Detroit after leaving Montgomery, Alabama, in 1957, and Cousin Rosie, as she’s known, formed many special relationships with young people, especially her young cousin, Carolyn Williamson Green (the author’s aunt). The book helps continue Parks’ legacy and philosophy on activism by teaching young readers how to become change agents in their community. On Amazon.
In 2017, Williamson made the award-winning documentary My Life With Rosie, which examines Parks and Green’s relationship and Green’s quest to continue her cousin’s activism. On Amazon Prime.
Bruce Olav Solheim, Citrus College Faculty Association, wrote Ali’s Bees in 2017. Ali, whose parents were killed in a terrorist attack in Iraq, has been sent to East Los Angeles to live with his beekeeper grandfather. Ali struggles with grief and post-traumatic stress disorder, but enjoys working with the bees and decides to do his science project on them. His work draws in Lupe, a classmate with problems of her own, and Jenks, a bully who cares for his disabled father. The three form an unlikely connection as they try to overcome their differences and challenges. Available on Amazon.
Solheim, a disabled U.S. Army vet who teaches history and is a former Fulbright scholar, has written a play based on the book and is offering the streamplay (with live, remote actors and 3D virtual-world settings) free to middle and high school students. Check out a prerecorded version seen in February by students in grades 6-8 at Edgewood Academy in La Puente. To view it or the trailer, go to youtube.com and search for “Ali’s Bees.” To request the streamplay, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dealing With Bullies
In Bullies and Peeps, Meg is a misfit at school, preferring nature to people. One day, her only friend joins a girl group led by Hannah, the most popular girl in the class. The group bullies Meg, though she finds a welcome distraction in a goose sitting on a nest of eggs in the school courtyard. No one is prepared for what happens after the eggs hatch. Written by J.D. Suhre, a third grade teacher and United Educators of San Francisco member, the book is meant for children ages 8-12. Available on Amazon.
Family Stories of Courage
CTA/NEA-Retired member Raquel Ramsey has co-written Taking Flight: The Nadine Ramsey Story, about a courageous woman who helped clear the flight path for today’s female combat and commercial aviators. In October 1944, Nadine Ramsey (the author’s future sister-in-law) was 33 and flying the cutting-edge P-51 Mustang to the war in Europe. Taking Flight is the inspiring story of a girl from Depression-era Kansas who overcame tremendous challenges and defied convention to become an elite pilot — one of the few American women to fly fighter aircraft during World War II.
Raquel Ramsey taught for 24 years in Beverly Hills Unified School District. In 2016, she was co-executive producer of Never Surrender: The Ed Ramsey Story, a documentary about her late husband, who in 1942 led the final horse-mounted cavalry charge in U.S. Army history. After the fall of Bataan, Ed Ramsey became a member of the Filipino resistance, commanding over 40,000 Filipino guerrilla troops against Japan.
Love Comes in Every Shade
As our country grapples with its difficult past, two educators offer a timely book to combat stereotypes and celebrate the skin tones of Black and brown people with Brown: The Many Shades of Love. Penned by elementary school teacher Nancy Johnson James, a San Leandro Teachers Association member, and illustrated by art teacher Constance Moore, an Alameda Education Association member, the picture book takes a look at the narrative around skin tone in a loving and lovely ode to the color brown. A boy describes the colors of his family’s skin — the clear, dark chocolate brown of his mama, the autumn leaf brown of his father — and celebrates his own gingerbread hue. As many children engage in tough discussions pertaining to racial differences in the early grades, the inviting language in this work is sure to pique the interest of young readers. Available at Amazon and cameronbooks.com.
Teacher Saves World
Teacher Saves World is a new podcast from wife-husband team Laurie and Matt Jones. Its goal is “education for teachers and parents that are trying to save the world, one teenager at a time,” with episodes that explore issues such as the most important year of high school and top concerns for hybrid classrooms. Both Joneses are 20-year educators and members of Tulare Joint Union High School Teachers Association.
Woman on the move
High school librarian and Grossmont Education Association member Laura Preble has won awards for her young adult series, Queen Geek Social Club. Her newest novel is the darkly witty Anna Incognito (2020), and while it deals with adult themes, it features a teen character pivotal to the story.
Protagonist Anna Colin Beck suffers from OCD and lives a regimented life at home, doing everything she can to avoid subjecting herself to the torments of a germ-infested world. A chance meeting in a laundromat changes her life, and she finds herself on a solo cross-country trip determined to stop a wedding. Though she’s planned extensively for all contingencies, there are some twists and turns — on a trip, in life — you just can’t prepare for. Available for purchase here.
Mocha: A Loyal and Loving Cat…
Mocha’s family moves to a new neighborhood, but she leaves them and heads back to her old house. Why? In this true story, told from Mocha’s point of view, a one-of-a-kind cat becomes not only companion but caregiver to her new owner. Her unconditional love and support during an especially difficult time makes a lasting impact on her owner’s life.
Third grade teacher Dana Russell, a member of Menlo Park Education Association, based the 2019 book on her former cat, who helped her process her grief after the sudden death of her husband. “I’m hoping it may be helpful for any child going through a tough time,” Russell says. “With the powerful love of a pet, sometimes we can get through the worst circumstances, as the book emphasizes.” Mocha is illustrated by middle school art teacher and MPEA member Anna Herzlinger Kogan. On Amazon.
Making a Scene
Mike Kimmel spent 11 years working on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. The actor and ESL and drama teacher, a member of Burbank Teachers Association, has long felt the need for practical, effective training tools for child and teen actors. So, he’s written several instructional books to meet the need, including Monologues for Teens (2018), named Performing Arts Book of the Year by the Independent Author Network, and Monologues for Kids and Tweens (2019). The family-friendly books contain positive imagery and subtle life lessons. Available at Amazon and mikekimmelauthor.com.
Shoes Off, Mommy? / ¿Me descalzo, mami?
Little Ali loves to take her shoes off and go barefoot — she feels most free without her shoes. With her mom’s support she discovers modern dance, her true calling, where she can be herself — barefoot and free!
Alison Rose is an elementary dance educator and United Teachers Los Angeles member. Shoes Off, Mommy? (2017), illustrated by Kathleen Vaslett-Carr, is based on Rose’s own personal narrative and is best for ages 5-8. It’s available in English and a Spanish and English bilingual version on Amazon.
Krishna Dalal, a math coach and member of the San Rafael Teachers Association, is the author of two award-winning picture books that are ideal for students ages 6-10.
Found All Around (2014) explores found poetry, where words are taken from existing texts (newspapers, menus, books, etc.), reordered and turned into poems. The how-to book includes creative found poems and illustrates the origin and process of each. Perfect for hesitant and proficient poets alike.
“Hey, that’s me!”
As a stay-at-home mom and then a reading specialist, PHELICIA LANG struggled to find books for her children and students with characters that looked like them and reflected them in a positive way. The Antioch Education Association member created Me on the Page (meonthepage.com), to produce and promote “what is true, healthy, and good … so our children see themselves on the page.” The Tay Early Reader series is the first out and is available on the site, as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Next up: a series for girls. “My greatest joy comes when I hear children say, ‘Hey, that’s me!’” after reading one of her books, Lang says. “Encouraging the kids to dream big dreams and be kind is the message I want to impart to them.”
Harvesting Friends/Cosechando Amigos
California Faculty Association member Kathleen Contreras is a bilingual educator and author of children’s books, including the new picture book Harvesting Friends/Cosechando Amigos (grades pre-K–3). In the book, young Lupe and Antonio learn that planting and tending a garden not only yield great veggies, but can grow community as well. A few simple recipes are included.