The fourth- and fifth-grade students in Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES teacher Cori Smith’s English as a New Language (ENL) class at Brockport’s Hill Elementary School have been exploring what it means to be brave. They began by recognizing their own bravery in the face of difficulty. For some, it was being afraid of lightning or trying to build a new skill; for others, learning origami or coming to a new school. They wrote stories about their personal experiences and shared them with classmates. Finally, they read “Sometimes Brave,” a novel by author Trista Wilson about a young girl, just their age, dealing with homelessness, bullying and finding friendship.
“The kids immediately responded to the story,” said Smith. “Their enthusiasm for reading the book pushed them to take on the challenging new vocabulary and increase their word comprehension. It also really brought them more closely together as a group. The book is a great learning tool.”
The class was particularly excited to learn that the author, an old friend of their teacher, wanted to stop in to meet them. Wilson, who now lives in Kansas, taught special education classes in Rochester for many years. She was in town on May 6, and spent the afternoon visiting with her fans at Hill School. The students greeted her with many questions – not only about her characters, but also about the process of writing and where she gets her ideas. Wilson even fielded queries about tornadoes, earthquakes and what it’s like to live in Kansas.
Several of the students wrote a special poem dedicated to the visiting author that included thoughts like:
Sometimes brave is learning a new language
Sometimes brave is answering a question
Sometimes brave is doing things you’re not good at
Sometimes brave is going out on a limb
“This is my first opportunity to have an in-person visit with my readers, and it’s a great thrill for me,” Wilson said. “I’m just so glad that my story has touched them.”