Saturday, March 2, 2013

Days 19 - 23 in Victor Harbor

A cool change arrived overnight and very early the next morning I was picked up by the May Gibbs Children's Literature Trust National Program Coordinator, Sally Chance. It was raining and pretty cool as we drove the hour plus down to the Fleurieu Peninsula and the historic town of Victor Harbor.

Arriving just in time for the start of the school day at Victor Harbor Primary School, we were warmly welcomed by the lovely teacher librarian, Margaret Wilkinson. The brand new library was all set up and waiting for me. I was in heaven!

Victor Harbor Primary School is the only state school in Australia affiliated with the May Gibbs Children's Literature Trust. Their support is very much appreciated.

Over the course of five days I presented talks and workshops to every class in the school. With the seniors I focussed on finding a character's vulnerabilities and then developing a plot around these. I showed how I brainstorm/mind map ideas - the crazier the better, and how as a mean and nasty author it's my job to make my character's life as difficult as possible.

With the juniors we looked at how a picture book develops from a one page storyboard and thumbnail sketches through to larger rough sketches, page layouts and a dummy book to test out visual and written narrative 'readability'. We did a final read through and then compared it to the story arc of an already published book.

I'm proud to say that not one class wanted to leave when the time was up. One teacher announced, 'It's lunchtime!' and a little boy answered, 'But I'm not hungry now.'

It's not enough to just read to students, or entertain and make them laugh, or even show and tell your art work. To truly engage them, kids want to be able to create. So little time is available in schools to opening the creative mind (of all from P/R to 7) and allowing it freedom to play. I tried to impress upon the kids this week that all ideas during brainstorming are valid, even the silliest ones - they might just turn out to be the best. 

In a world where creative people are needed more and more in a broader range of occupations, the creative minds of our children need to be nurtured.

At the Victor Harbor Primary School author dinner with TL, Margaret Wilkinson.
If you ever have the chance to visit Victor Harbor Primary School, you must go! The students and staff are warm and caring. Straight away I was welcomed at a lunch table and included in the chat. People greeted me by name and asked how I was going. Students lingered and chatted long after their teacher had lined up the rest of the class to leave. The teachers listened and took notes during my talks, asking questions and (together with the kids) being 100% engaged. They are all a fabulous example to their students. Principal Brenton Robins believes a school is like an extended family and the contented lives of those at Victor Harbor Primary School are testimony to his philosophy.

The library at Victor Harbor Primary School
The wonderful Margaret Wilkinson has created a library which is an oasis of peaceful interaction with books and online reading. There is even a book garden and a shaded outdoor area with garden seats and tables. At lunchtime children eagerly wait to come in. I truly pity the schools that don't have a teacher librarian like Margaret. Indeed some now have no TL at all.

I'd like to warmly thank Margaret Wilkinson for her meticulous care of my every need. It felt like a family member was watching out for me and her kindness put me at ease immediately. I truly appreciate it.

Thank you also to all the teachers at Victor Harbor Primary School, the Principal, Brenton Robins and the Deputy Principal, Sue Dixon, and also Linda in the canteen for all the yummy lunches.


DimbutNice said...

Superb and devine. Enjoying the tour Angela. Loving the vibe...

Angela Sunde. said...

Hi Dimity, thank you. I have a few days left and then it's back to normal life once again. It's been a great month.

Verla said...

This is cool!