COURT HOUSE – Students and teachers welcomed former elementary school teacher-librarian turned author, Dan Gemeinhart, to Middle Township Middle School May 16.
According to a release, Gemeinhart told students he worked as a teacher-librarian in an elementary school for 14 years, and that he wrote for 10 years, before he published his first book.
“I don’t believe in giving up and don’t think that you should, either,” stated Gemeinhart. He has written five novels to-date, “The Honest Truth”, “Some Kind of Courage”, “Scar Island”, “Good Dog”, and his most recent, published in January 2019, “The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise”.
The day began with separate assemblies for sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students in the Performing Arts Center. According to Connie Chabok, literacy teacher and instructional supervisor, the students “absolutely loved him.”
Gemeinhart talked about his childhood and how he and his family moved around a lot. He told students he had attended eight different schools from first through sixth grades. Gemeinhart talked about how books were always there for him, no matter in what town or state the family was living.
He said he always could go to the school or town library and check books out for free.
Additionally, Gemeinhart spoke of standing up to bullies, and doing the right thing. The students were particularly engaged during a question-and-answer session at the end of each assembly.
Chabok said Gemeinhart’s message resonated with students in all of the grades. “They really seemed to take it to heart,” stated Chabok.
Following the morning assemblies, Gemeinhart had lunch with 25 students who answered trivia questions, and/or had completed projects, such as illustrating a new cover or writing new titles for five chapters in one of the author’s books, for the opportunity.
Gemeinhart fielded student questions throughout lunch, and posed for photos with the students afterwards.
After lunch, about 50 students selected by the school’s literacy teachers, joined a writers’ workshop directed by Gemeinhart.
During the workshop, he guided the students into creating their own stories on topics of their choosing. Chabok stated students were very attentive and wrote throughout the entire session. “It was amazing,” said Chabok.
After the workshop, Gemeinhart signed all of the books the students had brought.
In addition to purchasing their own copies of Gemeinhart’s books and reading them before the author’s visit, all of his books had been checked out of the MTMS library – a sign of student interest in this year’s special guest author, explained Chabok.
Chabok was impressed not just with Gemeinhart and his rapport with the students, but with the students’ reaction to the author and their participation in the program.
“To say this day was the best of my 25 years of teaching would not even begin to describe what an impact Gemeinhart had on the students and teachers, as well, noted Chabok. “He is a remarkable, down to earth speaker and all around great guy.”
Gemeinhart’s visit to MTMS was funded by the proceeds of the school’s annual Scholastic Book Fair.