Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Holland, NY USA
SCHOOL VISITS: PreK - 6
Working with large groups of students, I share the sounds and stories of The Poem Farm. Acting out poems, playing with meter and rhyme, holding objects from the natural world, students learn to develop their own eyes and ears for finding and shaping the poems of their lives. While this program varies depending on the age of participating students, its focus remains the same: from silly to serious, poems can change us from the inside out… as readers, as writers, as humans.
Year(s) of participation: 2015, 2016
A4ED school visit photos & blurbs:
2016 at PINEHURST ELEMENTARY in Lake View, NY USA
AMY LUDWIG VANDERWATER CONNECTS WITH STUDENTS AT PINEHURST
I feel fortunate to have spent such a fun two days at Pinehurst Elementary in Lake View, NY as an Authors for Earth Day author. Librarian Lisa Wolski hosted me for six assemblies in her cozy and Earth-decorated library, and in between sessions I had the opportunity to eat lunch and talk with children. (I also got to listen as Lisa generously recommended all kinds of books to students big and small!) Earth Day was the theme of this year's PTA Parents as Reading Partners (PARP) celebration, and you could feel the joy of reading in the air all around Pinehurst.
To prepare for my visit, younger children colored bright Earth pictures, and many older students met with a wildlife rehabilitator, listened to animal stories, observed real animals, and drew these animals' portraits. Students also researched the organizations highlighted for this year's donation. And in a twist of events, instead of one winning organization, it was determined that I would donate $500 to Wilderness Haven Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Inc., $250 to Messinger Woods Wildlife Care and Education Center , and $250 to Tifft Nature Preserve.
As I delivered copies of Forest Has a Song and Every Day Birds to classrooms with Lisa, we stopped to watch students gather around the rolling cart that PTA members brought from room to room. The PTA had purchased hundreds of picture and chapter books, and each Pinehurst student was given a book of his or her choice. Watching them select these books was a treat! At other times of day, I saw students searching high and low for owl pictures hidden all around the building by PTA members.
Librarian Wolski reflected on this visit, "The students at Pinehurst truly enjoyed researching different organizations to donate monies to. This gave them ownership in where the donation went. I believe our students have a greater understanding now about Earth Day and how they can be instruments of change."
2015 at THOMAS A. EDISON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL in Tonawanda, NY USA
AMY GIVES BACK AT THOMAS A. EDISON
Librarian Gretchen Siebert and teachers and students prepared for our March visit with such beauty and intention. The school's literacy committee paired the day with their Parents as Reading Partners project, themed Read, Reuse, Recycle.
In the weeks leading up to our time together, student ambassadors made public service announcements teaching all classes about the nominee organizations. Teacher Susan Hirsch wrote a skit titled "A Clean World Stew," which was performed by students to kick off PARP. Children drew posters with an Earth Day theme, and by the time I arrived, the school was full of artwork, poetry, and research celebrating the beauties of nature.
Walking into the auditorium, I looked up to see an enormous rainbow of hands called "Hands to Help Earth Day." Each student had traced his or her hand and had written one way to be good to our planet on the paper palm. I knew when I left that students would soon be recycling books with a new read box invitation to "Give a book, take a book."
Based on the student votes, I contributed to both Messinger Woods Wildlife Care & Education Center and Tifft Nature Preserve. Librarian Siebert, who organized much of the preparation for our time together, reflected on this different type of author visit, "Hosting Amy Ludwig VanDerwater as our 'Author for Earth Day' helped us concentrate not only on her love of nature evident in her poetry, but also to involve our entire student community in planning Earth Day and PARP (Parents as Reading Partners) activities. Our students campaigned for the organizations designated by Amy and we were gratified that she chose to contribute to both Messinger Woods and Tifft Nature Preserve."
Read a newspaper article about the event here.