I grew up in a small town about 25 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, PA, in the Alle-Kiski Valley (named for the two rivers, the Allegheny and the Kiskiminetas.) The town was Natrona Heights, but the specific area where our house was located is called Birdville. My father lived in Birdville for his entire life, except when he was serving in World War II. As a little girl, I would ask questions, like "Is Birdville named for a bird? What kind?" My dad regaled my brothers and me with stories of the local airfield and the mail drop airplane; the "big league" baseball games, including teams like the Homestead Grays; and stories about what
used to be" where the Plaza currently stands. Birdville had local stories about Indian attacks and I saw the proof when our neighbor built a new driveway and mother-in-law house on his property. The summer of construction led to the findings of Indian pottery and glass beads, as well as arrowheads.
Birdville Elementary School was at the center and was the heart of the little town. My dad went to school there, as did my brothers and I. Just as a church is the center of some towns and parishes, our school was the town, serving the people both day and evening, as well as weekends.
A friend, Bob Barrage, a local architect, who was a cub scout and boy scout at Birdville, and is now a troop leader, allowed his piqued curiosity about Birdville to lead him to extensive research and the writing of a big book about Birdville, including old-time photos, drawings, and blueprints. There is even a section about the Ku Klux Klann giving Bibles to school children! The book comes in at over 700 pages, and many local people bought and are reading the book, which has prompted many discussions, both online and in person.
Perhaps one of the most poignant discussions about the book was abut a principal and teacher couple, Paul and Ruth Ripper. Although they passed away in the 1980's, both continue to be remembered for their contributions and their kindness. I had a discussion with a friend who is 72 years old, and he said Mrs. Ripper was the nicest teacher ever - noting that his class - back in the 1950's - collected money and bought her a television set, when television was still in its infancy. Having this discussion led me back to one of my firmest beliefs about being a teacher: the teacher MUST care about the students. Students recognize that care, and a relationship of mutual respect is formed. Teachers who enjoy a true relationship with their students have very few discipline problems. Additionally, students will try harder to please a teacher they like. Everyone liked Mr. and Mrs. Ripper; hence the positive information in Bob's book, and the fond remembrances they are receiving from former students more than 50 years later. (I can only hope that my 37 years in the classroom will be remembered so kindly.)
The BIRDVILLE SCHOOL book is the culmination of years of research, input from residents, and years digging in the library and newspaper archives. Bob Barrage created a wonderful book, and I wish my father, George Faltot, were alive to read it. Dad would have enjoyed every morsel and tidbit of this book about his beloved home town.
A link to information about the author and the book is here https://triblive.com/local/valley-news-dispatch/harrison-man-goes-back-to-school-to-tell-birdville-history/
Interested in the book? It is online only at http://www.lulu.com/shop/bob-barrage/birdville-school-a-portrait-of-small-town-america-in-the-20th-century/hardcover/product-23956620.html
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Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school. if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom. www.Fieldtripzoom.com GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 and 2018 (new edition) from The Authors' Zone.Grady also won a 2018 prestigious Moonbeam Award for Best Children's Book with Merchandise.
Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading. Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired!
Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom. Check them out! http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
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