Children’s author Patricia Polacco visits elementary students, teachers in Melissa


Nov 2017
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Renowned children’s author and illustrator, Patricia Polacco, paid a special visit to students and staff at Harry McKillop Elementary and Melissa Ridge Intermediate on Friday.

Connecting with Students

Polacco read three of her books aloud to students throughout the day, including The Keeping Quilt, Meteor, and Pink and Say. Following the read-alouds, students had the opportunity to ask questions.

Students were familiar with Polacco’s books: they inquired about which were her favorites and what inspired her to write them. In anticipation of Polacco’s visit, over 240 of her books were purchased by families from the two schools.

The library at Harry McKillop Elementary became “the bee hive” to tie in with The Bee Tree. Approximately 1,500 Scholastic books were purchased by Harry McKillop Elementary and Melissa Ridge Intermediate so that each student would receive a book to take home.

Polacco speaks to students
Polacco also spoke to students about her experiences as a person with dyslexia and the challenges she faced in school, sharing that she could not read until she was 14 years old. She emphasized the importance of acting with kindness and assured students that being different from their peers is a positive.

“No matter how threatening or bad things get, you’re going to rise up,” Polacco said during her presentation at Melissa Ridge Intermediate. “Nothing is going to defeat you.”

Classroom Door Decorations

Classroom doors were decorated by each teacher and their students based on themes in Polacco’s books. Students connected with a book’s subject matter through writing activities, and some student writing was featured on the doors.

Two classroom doors were selected as the best-decorated, with the reward being a photo with Polacco. Alyssa McClure’s second grade class won at Harry McKillop Elementary, while Jill Cox’s fifth grade class won at Melissa Ridge Intermediate.

Polacco Inspires All

Polacco met with teachers at Harry McKillop Elementary for a luncheon catered by Texas Roadhouse, and later that afternoon, met with teachers at Melissa Ridge Intermediate for pie.

Custom illustration for Melissa Schools by Patricia Polacco

Above: A custom illustration for Melissa Schools, drawn by children’s author Patricia Polacco.

Walter Perez, principal at Harry McKillop Elementary, said Polacco’s visit was “a magical moment” for teachers, students, and staff alike.

“Polacco, bigger than life creative storytelling, brought smiles and tears to all of us while leaving us wanting more,” said Perez. “‘Everyone loves a good story…’ she says! We loved seeing students catching the fire of her creativity and believing that books are precious and as sweet as honey.”

Michele Austin, principal at Melissa Ridge Intermediate said that staff and students “were mesmerized by Mrs. Polacco’s storytelling ability.”

“Patricia made a text-to-life connection for us all, in that we all encounter trying times in life, but we must get back up and keep striving toward our goals,” said Austin. “We were moved by her passionate plea to our students to not tease others for their differences, but rather to encourage and be kind to one another.”

Polacco has written and illustrated over 115 children’s books. Her visit to Melissa was sponsored by the McKillop Elementary PTO as part of the district-wide #Read2Grow reading initiative at Melissa Schools.

“As a parent I was deeply moved by Mrs. Polacco’s story,” said McKillop Elementary PTO president Stacy Demel. “Her ability to overcome childhood bullying, and learning difficulties, to become a successful author is inspiring. I am so excited that we were able to bring this amazing woman in contact with our students. She was a captivating speaker and storyteller and her message was so beautiful and personal.”

Media Contact: Maddie Coe, Community Relations

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