Yesterday was a super BLeSSeD DAY as Nic Stone, author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out (premiering this October), offered a brief moment of her time with our summer programs: Project Citizen, the Summer Invitational Leadership Institute for Teachers, and a Young Adult Literature course.
We filled the room with almost 70 summering readers, writers, and thinkers and, quite majestically, Nic Stone stole the house through every second of it. She's a stellar presenter and tremendous soul:
WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM WISDOM
I was playing tech role so couldn't scribe notes from all the knowledge she dropped, but what became loud and clear to me, other educators and youth writers in in the room was that each and every one of us should "Do You." She encouraged the adolescent writers to find the confidence and strength to write their stories, to share their worlds, and to keep their pens to paper with an eye on what is most real to them.
I think what was most amazing about the cyber visit was the number of kids who came up after the presentation with questions they were too shy to ask. I texted them to Nic Stone and was tremendously impressed that she responded to them one by one, sometimes in video form.
If you look at the faces of participants above, it becomes clear that 100% were captivated. Shoot. When I got home in the evening, I even had a gift from Senegal that was sent my way with a note, "Thank you for introducing my child to Dear Martin, and delivering books to Connecticut youth."
Okay, I'll take that, but all I did was write grants to get the books so I could craft and facilitate stellar programs with K-12 schools and CWP. Nic Stone writes them and seeing her on the screen yesterday simply made my heart leap from my chest. Even better was the way hearts leaped from Ali, Akbaru, and Kemoy - youth who loved her book and who were starstruck with the opportunity to be online with her.
And as for Abu, the fact that Nic Stone's youngest child made guest appearances throughout the talk made the greatest impression. "That was mad cool," he said, "that she let us see how real she is. Here she is writing books, and giving us her time, but she's honest enough to share that her life is robust with children, cries, demands, and what most of us pretend we never experience."
I have so much more to write, but these 18-hour days have my brain numb. For now, I simply send a bundle of joy and karma to Atlanta so that it trickles back to Nic Stone and returns the kindness she showed my youth and teachers yesterday.
The Saugatuck Story Fest can't wait to meet her face to face next October.