When Adam Welcome and I wrote and released Kids Deserve It!, I thought that was it for me! I finally completed another item on my bucket list, I poured my heart on the pages, and gave it my all. I remember turning the book in and saying, “that’s it! I’m never writing another book!” Well we all know what happens when you tell God “No” or “Never”.
I remember sitting with some of my teachers and hearing them discuss some new ideas they were trying and I was blown away. Then I remembered what I’ve always been told, when you’re given a platform, you must use it to amplify the voices of others. That’s where the idea for my new book, Stories from Webb, came from.
I didn’t want to just “write another book”. I wanted it to be something different. Something that maybe hadn’t been done yet. And as I sat listening to my team talk, I realized I wanted to celebrate them. To amplify their voices.
So I pitched the book idea to Dave and Shelley Burgess, and they loved it! So now came the hard part….convincing my team that their voices were important enough to include in a book. When I made the announcement to my team they were ecstatic. We were going to get to share our story, our beliefs, our successes and failures!
The hard part was indeed working with adults who had never felt brave enough to put their ideas or beliefs in writing to share with a large audience. They felt like inadequate writers or that they didn’t have a story to share. After months of conversations and friendly prodding, I am thrilled to share with you over 50 different team member’s ideas, beliefs, perspectives, and more. From teachers, to instructional aides, to our music teacher, campus secretary, nurse, librarian, and more!
Reading the completed book for the first time, I broke down in tears. I wrote every single chapter, and included their stories within what I was writing. But to just to work alongside of these people every day, and now to see their words in a book. To hear their bravery in sharing their stories. It is incredibly moving.
To read stories like
- Someone who struggled through multiple miscarriages.
- Working tirelessly to reach a child only to have them unexpectedly taken away by CPS and never really knowing what happened next with them.
- What it takes to do a classroom transformation.
- How the “Secret Society of Readers” and “Book Prom” have changed the reading lives of many of our students (and how you can implement them at your school).
- How a switch day or use of a robot gave us new perspectives on our practices
- What happens when you’re unexpectedly not given a last day of school
- The role faith plays in some of our lives
- and so much more….
While writing the book I kept thinking about who I wanted to write our foreword. Immediately Kim Bearden came to mind. Kim is a great friend of mine and also one of the kindest and most genuine people on the planet. Oh, she’s also the co-founder of the Ron Clark Academy and author of the INCREDIBLE book Crash Course. The moment I reached out to her she was game. That’s just how she is. Every time I’ve ever called or texted her, she’s been available in a moment’s notice. The other reason I really wanted Kim to write our foreword was because she’s actually been to Webb Elementary. She knows what goes on here. And let me tell you, when I read her foreword to our team, we all sat and balled our eyes out. It is beautiful. Here’s a glimpse…
Then I was thinking about endorsements and who I wanted to send an early copy of our book to. When you think of endorsements, one thing you try to do is dream big. I try and think, who is someone I’d love to have endorse, but might actually be out of my reach.
Then I remembered the final chapter in the book. It’s called “Dear Me” and it’s actually one of only two chapters that don’t feature a story from a team member. I wrote the chapter after listening to Nichole Nordeman‘s most recently released song also called “Dear Me” from her album “Every Mile Mattered“. You see, I’ve been a Nichole Nordeman fan since I was a teenager. She is an award winning singer/songwriter whose songs have been defining moments in my life. After writing one of the more personal chapters I’ve ever written, I knew immediately I wanted Nichole to be my “endorsement big wish”. So I reached out to her on twitter and briefly explained what I was hoping for. To my utter shock and surprise, she responded! After a bunch of direct messages and emails later, Nichole turned in one of the most gorgeously written pieces I’ve ever read about any of my work. Another testament to the power of social media. Here’s a glimpse of what Nichole wrote…
I share all of this, to introduce you, and give you a glimpse of my next book, and the next book in the #KidsDeserveIt Collection, Stories from Webb. It comes out January 24, 2018, but is up for pre-order NOW on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
This isn’t a book just for educators. This isn’t a book just for elementary teachers. We wrote a book for anyone who has anything do with kids. Our hope with this book is that inspires you, uplifts you, challenges some of your thinking, gives you new ideas, but most of all we hope that this book encourages you to tell your story too. To remember that we all bring something of worth to the table and it’s important that we share our stories. Stories move us, they teach us, they bring us together. I hope this book encourages you to, as we say every day at Webb Elementary, be brave.