National Authors Day at KJTMA

National Authors Day Event Ignites Students Love for Literacy, Learning, and Leadership
Posted on 11/04/2021
National Authors Day Image

It is often said that leaders are readers and in observance of National Authors Day about 60 third grade students at the DeSoto ISD Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy (KJTMA) participated in a campus literacy event that displayed that leaders can also be great writers and authors.

KJTMA English Language Arts and Reading third-grade teacher Sharmetra A. Lewis, who is also a published author, hosted the event on youth literacy to inspire students to continue to excel in reading and writing.

“I don’t write for myself, for satisfaction, but I do it for you guys. I want to see you grow, improve and love literacy just like I love it,” said Lewis to her students. “There are plenty of stories inside of you; you just must believe it. Also, know that the only person who can limit your dreams is you.”

Lewis briefly shared her story of becoming an author and educator to help create a better future for our youth. She also surprised students with their very own autographed copy of her newest fiction book, The Mysterious Snack Snatcher with a personalized inspirational message.

While Lewis expresses her love for youth literacy as an adult, she also shared that, as a child, she did not know her full potential.  

“As a child, I did not like writing and would barely read a book,” said Lewis during her presentation. “I started journaling and capturing notes everywhere I went. I began to find inspiration in everything that I saw and experienced.” 

Beginning with students on her DeSoto ISD campus at KJTMA, Lewis now seeks to inspire the youth around her. She encourages students to look at everything as a story opportunity and use their mental energy to capture and share their experiences.

“This is amazing. I love that I can merge my passion with my purpose and career. I love coming to this job every day knowing that I am making an impact and leaving a lasting legacy. It is a beautiful experience to share my passion with my students and see that they are blossoming every day.” 

KJTMA student Rosemary Castillo attended the event and walked away more excited about learning. 

“I learned that reading and writing go together and that I am supposed to write and express my feelings when I write. Also, if you can read and write, you can make your own book. Reading is important.” 

Like Castillo, the students were full of smiles and energy while receiving their donated surprise books and immediately started to read them with their peers.

Castillo continued, “This school is full of excitement. I am so happy about Ms. Lewis and the surprise book she had for us. I have a famous teacher and she can teach me a lot.”  

Still reeling with excitement, the students performed a mnemonic song on the S-O-A-R-reading strategy created by DeSoto ISD Instructional Facilitator Cora Garner as they eagerly anticipated the receipt of their book and a second surprise—a visit from two-time published author and alum, the Honorable City of DeSoto Mayor Rachel L. Proctor who spoke about writing and her district inspiration.

“I had an innate love for reading, but it was my teacher, Ms. Beth Wright at The Meadows (which was an Intermediate campus at the time), who really inspired me to read and write my book way back in fifth grade and to embrace my love for reading.” shared Mayor Proctor.

Like her teacher encouraged her, Mayor Proctor encouraged students to read, write, lead and touch their dreams every day.

“Life means nothing if you don’t know your purpose. But, purpose means nothing if you do not focus on it every day. Focus means nothing if you do not commit because you can not be on track one day and off-track the next,” said Mayor Proctor. “So, first, find your purpose and then focus on it and commit to spending time with your dream every day.”

DeSoto ISD Instructional Coach Yolanda Hanspard, also a published author, spoke to the value of KJTMA teachers and students being able to learn and engage in unique ways.

“The energy in the room was great. It was good to see the leaders being empowering our students and seeing the possibilities that are available to them. When they can see what their teacher is doing inside and outside the classroom, it enhances their learning and ties back to the joy of reading,” said Hanspard. “(…) it gives students a different lens through which to consider their future. They have a living example before them every day to let them know that this is something that they can do.”

During the event, Ms. Lewis explained the importance of creating a bridge of learning to ensure that every generation continues to grow, learn and achieve their dreams. This is a concept which excited KJTMA Principal Dr. Michelle Neely who was overjoyed at the experience and response of the third-grade students.

“I am proud and grateful. It was amazing to see the students so excited to have books in their hands, especially since they knew the author. The personalized message for each student is something that the students will keep and remember for years to come,” said Dr. Neely. “I am glad I have teachers walking in their purpose in the classroom.” 

Dr. Neely also considered how this event articulated the vision of DeSoto ISD to create courage, curiosity, and agency in our district and its mission to ensure that students learn and grow at their highest potential.

“Students can learn in the classroom but this is where they make connections to the real world. These events are absolutely critical. The Eagle at Academy at KJTMA provides a social-emotional-learning (SEL) opportunity that students may not receive in other instances. This experience is the articulation of the mission, vision, and core values of our district.”

National Authors Day became an official day of observance by the United States Department of Commerce in 1949 as a day to celebrate authors and the books they write. The recognition of this day is a result of a resolution adopted by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs by Nellie Verne Burt McPherson in 1929, who was a former teacher and the president of a Women’s Club in Illinois.