author and playwright
Lancaster, PA USA
SCHOOL VISITS: K - 12
I tailor presentations and writing workshops to the ages and needs of my audiences and the time we have together. With younger children, I use TOO MANY FROGS to illustrate story structure – character, problem, solution – and lead them in creating a group story. With older students, I share my writing process from idea to publication and guide them in brainstorming ideas, writing poems and personal narratives, and/or refining writing techniques. Time permitting, we may begin dramatizing their original pieces.
Year(s) of participation: 2015, 2017, 2018
A4ED school visit photos & blurbs:
KING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL in Lancaster, PA USA
SANDY FUELS CONSERVATION AT KING ELEMENTARY
"What a party! What a day!" On Friday, April 27, 2018, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School was all about the celebration of nature. Thanks to event organizer and first grade teacher Sue Broaddus and funding from the Lancaster Education Foundation, my visit started with a welcoming banner emblazoned with the Authors for Earth Day logo, and continued into lively sessions with kindergarteners, first, and second graders, plus a Readers Theater presentation of my book What A Party (hence, the report's opening quote). Amusing proof that the kids had studied my nominated organizations: one informed me his teacher had shown a video of me in the rain forest. Turns out he had me confused with Jane Goodall. I felt honored!
The votes, I'm told, were wide spread, but the cheers when I announced the winner, Pet Pantry of Lancaster County, pointed to a decisive majority. I shared with each group poems and stories I've written that were inspired by the natural world and encouraged them to pay attention to and write about their own encounters with animals, seasons, trees, flowers, etc., as city dwellers.
Meanwhile, outside the school and throughout the neighborhood, older students were helping city workers plant over 100 trees as part of an initiative sponsored by Lancaster County Conservancy, Lancaster Tree Tenders and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Involvement inside and out! Thrilled to be part of it!
MORELAND HILLS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL in Cleveland, OH USA
SANDY GIVES KIDS A CHOICE AT MORELAND HILLS
The title "Happiest Place on Earth" has already been taken by the Disney folks, but I think Moreland Hills Elementary School in Pepper Pike, OH, may have a legitimate claim to it. Situated on the beautiful Orange Schools campus, the elementary school building is bright and spacious and filled with all sorts of learning opportunities for its students. Librarian Pamela Black, Principal Renee Tuttle, and the rest of the staff were warm, welcoming, helpful, and genuinely enthusiastic about my visit and the Authors for Earth Day project. The children, of course, basked in and reflected that supportive glow. They were thoroughly prepared and made my day-and-a-half with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders an unmitigated pleasure.
But they did make me cry! Yes, I burst into tears of gratitude when Miss Black revealed the winner of the A4ED donation chosen by the children. It was LaMancha Animal Rescue, less than an hour from my home in Central PA, where we adopted our beloved dog, Gracie, and, before her, the late, great Rudy. Besides the fact that LaMancha is so dear to my heart, it was the smallest and least well-known of the organizations I'd nominated and depends on donations. I wanted the children to learn about it, but I never guessed they'd give it the majority of their votes -- by far. When I got back to PA, I felt like running the 30 or so miles down the road to tell LaMancha the good news, shouting with joy all the way!
I've since calmed down and will mail a letter and the check, instead. I'm already looking forward to the next A4ED experience, but this one will live happily ever after in my heart. Thank you to all at who made it possible!
LANCASTER COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL in Lancaster, PA USA
SANDY GIVES BACK AT LANCASTER
My April 24 visit brought delights both expected and unexpected. I already knew that the lower school children (K-5) had selected the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania to receive our donation, as librarian Cindi Knauer had chosen to hold the vote over several days in order to reach more of the children during their scheduled library times. Being a long-time wolf enthusiast and aware that our nearby sanctuary exists only through donations, I was pleased. And I had no doubts that I'd enjoy meeting the children, thanking them in person, sharing my books with them, and leading them in writing exercises. All givens before I arrived, and all went as I'd hoped. What surprised me was Cindi's gratitude for the opportunity to introduce the children to my five nominated organizations and for the rich, animated discussions that apparently followed. Terms such as "charity" and "no-kill shelter" were new to some of the children. Others who had visited the Wolf Sanctuary and one who had been to the Children's Eternal Rainforest in Costa Rica offered their first-hand accounts.
Though I had not been part of those discussions, I got an inkling of what they were like when I thanked each grade for their votes. Eyes lit up, smiles spread ear-to-ear, fists pumped the air, and sighs of "Yes!" snaked through the room. They were totally invested in the process and the outcome.
I love a win-win situation. I can't even count all the winners in this one—human and wolf! Thank you, Authors for Earth Day.