Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Watch out! I've got my spy book!"

I love when everything goes right! This week, after over 9 months of planning, children's author, professional writer and unofficial comedian, Lester Laminack came to our school for 2 whole days. As the chair of the Literacy Committee, I helped organize this amazing event for our students and staff. This was a new, scary experience for me, but I am so glad that I took the plunge.

In preparation for his visits, our teachers decorated the hallways like Christmas was a comin'. There were beautiful displays! Little "first grade" snowmen adorn with the kids' photos were tacked up all along the main corridor to welcome our new friend, Lester. There were displays of interesting collections of 100 that included snowflake chains, 100 ways to say "Hello!", equations that equal 100 and much more. Upstairs, there was poetry written by children, life stories inspired by the author, precious "doily" snowmen and even podcasts that were done on student laptops. The school climate was electric!

Lester is a pro! During his time with our Pinney students, he established his expectations right from the start. He crouched down in front of them and looked every student directly in the eye and said with his thick, serious southern drawl, "While I am here, you will be kind to one another. That means you will not be rude! You will not try to talk over someone. You will not prevent someone else from participating. I will not tolerate rudeness!" With eyes as big as saucers, the kids, big and small, nodded that they got the message! Then, as if he had been stung by a bee, he then propelled himself into ACTION. For eight 45 minutes sessions over two days, he preformed. Sometimes he stood on one leg in a yoga pose. Other times his thin legs were turned in pigeon toed and he would sway back and forth like a young child, while he shared, entertained, acted, explained and inspired our students and staff to write!

Although it is difficult to explain his sessions, because most of the time his thinking was like his body, a blur of motion. (He explained to the children that his brain is wired differently. He has A.D.D.). One common theme was carefully, artfully woven throughout his presentations...You can write and I am going to show you how. With all the drama one man can muster up, he whispered to the children that he was going to let them in on a little secret....He's a spy and he has a spy notebook! He showed them how he keeps it in his back pocket and everyone thinks it is his wallet. In his spy notebook with his carefully concealed spy pen, he records real observations about real people. He proceeded to show us all how his spy notes allow him to record observations that he can use later to weave amazing stories.

Watch out! Our students and staff now have Lester Laminack inspired "spy notebooks and pens" (aka $.25 pads from Big Lots and Bic pens)in our pockets. But, more importantly, we have Lester's messages and memories of his visit carefully etched in our hearts.

PS He also did a hour and one half professional development session after school. I will blog about that at a later date. Of course, all I have to do is look at the notes in my "spy notebook."


  1. What an amazing visit this sounds like! And I know the prep that went into for months ahead of time was a wonderful learning experience for all involved. Congratulations!

  2. It was amazing time for all. Your steadfastness and vision for bringing Lester to our school showed what came happen when a tribe comes together towards a common goal. Thank you for your leadership in this endeavor.

  3. So glad it went so well. HE is great!!

  4. Oh Lester Laminack! What an amazing visitor you guys had! He is fascinating to listen to, and he is great with audience. Lucky you all!