Now and then we authors experience what I like to call a “DREAM” school visit.  My recent visit to Tumwater Hill Elementary in Olympia, Washington, was one such “DREAM” school.

When I drove up to the school building, there was a Scottish flag flapping in the breeze to welcome me, and of course, since it was Olympia, Washington, it was already a soggy, cloudy day, just like Scotland.

Scottish Flag at Tumwater Hill Elementary flapping a Welcome Wave!

The lovely Kim McCloud, who had  spent many months arranging this visit was there to greet me with a hug and smile and a wee piece of Scottish heather to pin to my name tag.

Scottish Flags decorating the Front Office!

All the children and staff had read all my books BEFORE my visit.  All around the school there were posters, artwork, letters, creative writing pieces,”kindness” crowns from my Giant King Book, paintings inspired by The Sandal Artist, Tiger masks from Raj the Bookstore Tiger, and Scottish flags flapping!

Display of my books at the Entrance to the School
Letters from the children
Kindness crowns from The Giant King
More Kindness crowns

 The children had prepared wise and thoughtful questions BEFOREHAND.

Kim McCloud’s First Grade Class

 A member of the school district came to see one of my presentations and wrote about it in the district newsletter.  The Principal attended many of the presentations and went out of his way to welcome me and show his appreciation for my visit.  The parents and teachers were invited to come to an evening session that I did on “Nurturing a Passion for Stories.”  The children listened attentively and were actively engaged and enthusiastic throughout.They offered delightful, funny comments such as the one little fellow who  told me, ever so earnestly, as I ended my presentation, “I’m really going to miss you when you go!”

In the Library after our RAJ session

  Every single class arrived on time, and were polite and curious and seemed to love learning.  There were NO interruptions for bathroom breaks or trips to the water cooler.  They had an author’s lunch for me with a selected group of students, and the volunteer parents and teachers used a Scottish theme complete with tartan tablecloth and miniature Scottish flags.

Lunch with “the author”
Lunch with “the author”

All the teachers had prepared their students by making use of the activity guides for each of my books, and then posting all the childrens’ work around the school, and each teacher made a point of coming up to me after my presentation to thank me and tell me how much they appreciated me being there to talk to their students.

Seeing like Roberto in The Sandal Artist

Finding Grace and Beauty from The Sandal Artist

Inspired by RAJ
RAJ Writings!

All these preparations not only made me feel like a rock star, but far more importantly, it allowed the students and the teachers to take away so much more from my presentations – they were already familiar with the characters and themes of my books, and so it was easy for them to follow up with other activities and discussions after I left.  In other words, it wasn’t just a chance for students to meet a real live author, it was also an opportunity for teachers, students, and parents to come together as a community and celebrate the power of books and stories to make us all “burn bright” in our particular and unique way!  It truly “nurtured a PASSION for stories in this community – a passion that will help their children to live life more gladly, compassionately, and creatively!

What an amazing school community!  What a “DREAM” school!

A thousand thanks to Kim McCloud who wrote the grant to make this possible! You do indeed “shine like the sun!”