Though not necessarily writing the great American novel, at least six Columbia County educators have written or illustrated books. Some books were written for children, some for fellow teachers and others out of a sense of historical curiosity.
Most of the novels were self-published and are available through Web-based booksellers.
"Trying to go the traditional route could take years and years," said Euchee Creek Elementary schoolteacher and author Patricia Brower.
Many of the literary works stray from the typical children's tale that some might expect from educators. One teacher wrote a learning guide for children, and another wrote a learning guide for teachers.
Other stories that were written for children impart a traditional moral.
"It's your basic be-kind-to-others story," Riverside Elementary teacher Sherry Riner said of one of her novels.
Cassie Thompson, art teacher,
North Harlem Elementary School
Book: My Sister Cami
Thompson tells her story with illustrations, not words.
Thompson worked with Atlanta teacher and author Niyoka Dixon to illustrate a novel about a disabled girl and her family.
"The book is about a little girl, and her younger sister has Tourette (syndrome)," Thompson said. "She's a little bit embarrassed to have her hang out with her.
"The book helps (pupils) to understand the condition in kid-speak."
Thompson sought inspiration from her children to draw her illustrations.
"I looked at the colors they used, the patterns," she said. "I wanted to catch their attention by seeing what they like."
Thompson said Dixon is seeking a publisher for the book.
Carla Shelton, principal,
Harlem Middle School
Book: The Exceptional Teacher's Handbook
Shelton's resource guidebook for teachers recently entered into its third print edition.
"When I first got into special education, there wasn't a step-by-step guide," said Shelton, a former special-needs teacher and school counselor. "The job is so filled with multitudes of tasks and responsibilities that I needed some type of structure."
When she had difficulty finding such a resource, she created one for herself and other educators.
Shelton also wrote Best Practices for Effective Secondary School Counselors with the same idea of counseling those who counsel pupils.
"I love brainstorming to help teachers and students," she said. "I'm really a teacher first, and that's what I consider myself."
Both books are available at www.corwinpress.com.
Patrick Rivette, JROTC instructor,
Evans High School
Book: The Chief Centurion: A Soldier of Rome
A lunchtime of perusing the Bible prompted Rivette to create a fictional history for one of its minor personalities -- Claudius Lysias.
"He's a character from the book of Acts," he said. "He's a Roman centurion who saves Paul from the mob. I basically just gave him a fictional life story leading up to that incident."
Rivette's novel follows Lysias from his basic training in Jerusalem, his service in Gaul, the Roman invasion of Britain and then back to Jerusalem.
"I have always been a student of the Roman army," said Rivette, a retired Army lieutenant colonel.
"I have to confess that one of my favorite books growing up was Ben-Hur ."
Rivette self-published his novel in 2001 with Xlibris. It is available online at www.xlibris.com.
Patricia Brower, first- and second-grade early intervention teacher
Euchee Creek Elementary School
Book: Trapped in the River
"I wrote it 20 years ago with my mother," Brower said of her children's book. "She drew the pictures and I wrote the words."
Brower initially wrote the novel during a college course in children's literature.
"I decided last year I wanted to make it into a 'real book' with my mother," she said. "It's very sentimental for us."
The novel is meant to inspire teamwork and cooperation with young readers, Brower said.
The book's plot revolves around a squirrel that gets trapped on a rock in the middle of a river while chasing after an acorn.
"All the little animals in the forest try to rescue him, and they're each trying to do it individually," Brower explained. "The squirrel tells them to work together to rescue him. Together, they come up with a solution."
Like Rivette's book, Brower's novel is self-published and is available at www.xlibris.com.
Sherry Riner, first-grade teacher,
Riverside Elementary School
Book: Wally the Whale Learns How to be a Winner
Riner wanted her book to teach children how to win in a dual sense.
"It is about a whale who was not very good at swimming and the other whales made fun of him," Riner explained. "Well, he practiced, and practiced, and practiced until he got good. When he won, he had a very bad attitude.
"Eventually, he learns how to win and how to be a good winner."
The children's book was published five years ago and is available on www.amazon.com.
Riner is working on two new novels: Suzy the Stinky Secret Teller and an untitled adult book.
The first novel tells children the necessity of being able to keep secrets and maintain harmony with friends.
Riner's second novel tackles more serious and spiritual issues.
"It's about God's magnificent presence in the lives of four women and how he saved four marriages," she said.
Brett Cooper, eighth-grade teacher,
Riverside Middle School
Book: Pesky Percentages
"As a teacher, I got frustrated with kids learning percentages ... with moving the decimal and multiplying," Cooper said. "What I started realizing is that kids really didn't understand what they were doing."
Written for pupils in fourth through eighth grades, Cooper's book abandons the traditional method of teaching percentages in favor of a "commonsense" approach.
"It's a visual, poetic and concrete way of learning things," he said.
Cooper said the book first establishes such benchmark percentages as 75 percent, 50 percent, 25 percent and so on.
"They can figure out that 10 percent of 80 is going to be eight," he said. "Then 5 percent of 80 is half of 10 percent. So they can figure out that 5 percent is four."
Cooper then enhances his method with rhymes.
"I'm a musical person, so I use a choral response: 'A 100 percent has a mighty good ring. A 100 percent is the whole entire thing. A 100 percent of seven is a seven. While a 100 percent of 11 is 11,'" he sang.
Pesky Percentages is available online at www.authorhouse.com and www.amazon.com.
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