New York City, NY USA
SCHOOL VISITS: K - 6
I write picture books, beginning readers, and chapter books, and usually speak in 3 large-group assemblies during a school day: a 45-minute presentation for K - 1, 55-minute presentations for grades 2 - 3, and 4 - 5/6, and I enjoy having an Authors' Lunch with students. The more familiar students are with my books, the more they'll get out of the visit. You can find a list of my presentations as well as book-related activities on my website.
Year(s) of participation: 2017, 2018, 2019
A4ED school visit photos & blurbs:
William Woodruff Elementary, Mount Park Elementary, and Thomas P. Hughes Elementary in Berkeley Heights AND Orchard Hill Elementary in Skillman, New Jersey USA
KATE MENTORS KIDS AT WOODRUFF, MOUNTAIN PARK AND HUGHES
Earth Day started early this year with my February 26th, March 4, and March 6th visits to three New Jersey elementary schools. Because of an on-going situation at the Berkeley Heights schools, the students were not able to research a variety of conservation organizations and vote on one winner, but creative librarians Marilyn Merrill and Mary Niedenfuhr made the best of it and I had three wonderful Authors for Earth Day visits.
The 4th graders at all three schools researched The Raptor Trust, a bird rehabilitation center in Millington NJ, that many of the students had visited. The 4th graders worked in small groups and made wonderful posters to inform other students about The Raptor Trust, which provides free care for injured birds, hoping to return each one to the wild. For a variety of reasons, some birds, such as the aptly-named Uno, the Bald Eagle with only one good eye, cannot safely be returned to wild. These birds become 'education birds,' and permanent residents of The Trust. As their posters show, the students were particularly taken by these permanent residents.
To add to the students' conservation awareness, I showed my photos of The Wild Bird Fund, New York City's only bird rehabilitation facility housed in a small store-front on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The Wild Bird Fund sends raptors it is not able to rehabilitate to The Raptor Trust. One student told how she and her family had come upon the Wild Bird Fund during a recent trip to NYC. When they saw doves and pigeons in the front windows, they couldn't help but go inside, where they were greeted by recovering swans, ducks and chickens. I'm guessing more students will be interested in visiting the facility on future trips to the city.
Inspired by and in honor of the students, librarians, and staffs at Woodruff, Mountain Park, and Hughes Schools, it was my great pleasure to send $1500 to The Raptor Trust and $1500 to The Wild Bird Fund. (Photo credits: Kate in polka-dotted sweater, Marie Pellegrini; Kate in pink sweater, Andrea Masri; Wild Bird Fund exterior, Catherine Quayle.)
KATE MENTORS KIDS AT ORCHARD HILL
PTO rep Yuna Kim picked me up from the train station in Princeton Junction and we drove to Orchard Hill Elementary with her two daughters sitting in the back seat reading my books. An excellent start to an excellent day! Upon arrival at the school, I was greeted by PTO rep Karen Chang, who'd organized the book sale and helped me with the signing.
I was Orchard Hill's Second Grade Author this year. The conservation organizations I asked the kids to research for Authors for Earth Day were The Raptor Trust, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, and the Ocean Conservancy. Posters advocating for each one lined the hallways.
Librarian Sharon Baller designed a wonderful Zamboni Meets Garbage Truck welcome display for me on her library window. She had done so much to prepare her students for their Authors for Earth Day visit, even visiting The Raptor Trust herself and taking a video of a recuperating Bald Eagle for her students.
At the end of the day when Mrs. Baller announced that the winner of my donation was the Ocean Conservancy, cheers rang out up and down the Second Grade Hallway. This is the third year in a row that the Ocean Conservancy has been a winner at one of my A4ED schools. I showed the kids an oversized copy of the check for $1,000 that I'd send to the Ocean Conservancy because these students voted for me to do so.
It makes me so happy that being a part of A4ED allows me to give these kids a voice and the power to help make the ocean a cleaner, safer place for all the creatures and people who depend upon it. Many thanks to Sharon Baller, Yuna Kim and Karen Chang for organizing such a memorable day at Orchard Hill School.
BAYVILLE PRIMARY SCHOOL, in Bayville, New York USA
KATE FUELS CONSERVATION AT BAYVILLE
The minute I stepped inside Bayville Primary School and saw the amazing 3-D mural created by the art teacher and the kids, I knew I was going to have an amazing day. I was right.
Stefanie Lipsey, the librarian, had prepared her students very well for my visit. The K-2 students were quite excited about the Authors for Earth Day project and voted for me to donate half of my honorarium to the Ocean Conservancy. Since the kids in Bayville live near the sea and spend lots of time at the beach, they are interested in a healthy ocean, so it's no surprise that they chose the Ocean Conservancy.
After the assembly, I was treated to an incredible lunch prepared by the PTA moms, complete with a garbage-truck cake!
I spoke to grades 3-5 in the afternoon. Although this group, too, voted for the Ocean Conservancy as their choice for an author donation, Paige Coppola, the upper school librarian, told me that many of her students were incredibly moved by the work that The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is doing in providing a home in the wild for elephants who have spent most of their lives performing in circuses. Ms. Coppola phoned the sanctuary and arranged for her students to have a remote learning experience with the elephants at the sanctuary.
Authors for Earth Day gives kids a unique opportunity for learning about the earth and its creatures, and it's an honor for me to be a part of it each year. Many thanks to Ms. Lipsey and Ms. Coppola, two incredibly dedicated librarians, and to the teachers, administrators, staff, and PTA at the Bayville Schools who all helped to make it a wonderful day.
WASHINGTON SCHOOL, in Washington Township, New Jersey and MCLEAN SIXTH GRADE in Ft. Worth, Texas USA
KATE GIVES KIDS A CHOICE AT WASHINGTON
The kids were so happy that the Vaquita Porpoise won their donation. They are living up to their motto to MAKE EVERY DAY
I began my presentations with a Power Point showing some of the terrific signs I'd seen at the March for Science in Washington DC. The one that seemed to resonate most for the students was: THERE IS NO PLANET B. The kids offered their own idea for a sign: MAKE EVERY DAY
My MARCH FOR SCIENCE sign, suggested by students and lovingly painted in watercolor by my artist husband, didn't survive long in the rainy D.C. weather!
It was heartening to hear how much the students had learned from researching the five conservation organizations on their A4ED ballots. They told me about futuristic directions in science, the plight of bats and whales and why the world's rain forests are so vitally important. In the end, the kids voted for our donation to go to VIVA VAQUITA!. This organization is working to save one of the world's most endangered species, the little Vaquita Porpoise, which currently has only 28 remaining individuals. The Washington School students are hoping that their donation can help to get those numbers climbing!
Thank you, librarian Lisa Breen for preparing the students so beautifully, and thank you Washington School PTO and faculty for your support in making my first A4ED visit such a memorable one for us all.
KATE GIVES KIDS A CHOICE AT MCLEAN
Thanks to an inspirational principal, Laura Armstrong, a talented Reading Specialist, Angela De Salvo, fantastic teachers, and 520 eager and well-prepared sixth graders, my A4ED visit to McLean 6th Grade couldn't have been more perfect. Right off the bat, they made me feel welcome.
My day began with a tour of the school conducted by the Student Council so that I could admire all the Earth Day posters the students created to promote their favorite conservation organizations.
When the votes were tallied, I announced over the school's PA system that the winner of a portion of my honorarium was — Ocean Conservancy.
I gave my presentation on Myth-o-Mania, a series of books retelling some Greek myths with Hades as the narrator, and the students and I discussed the ancient Greek concept of Gaia, Mother Earth, and how thousands of years ago people were concerned about taking care of our planet, just as we are now. Back in the day, I taught sixth grade and it was so cool to spend time in a school devoted specifically to the education of sixth graders!