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Wow. Just Wow.

Jami McDaniel Stichter a former student who is now a published author.

Awhile ago I was a 7th grade language arts teacher. My last year in the classroom I had one of the coolest classes that may have ever been compiled. It was the last block of the day. There were 22 of them, and they all came from very different walks of life. Outside of the classroom they barely knew one another existed. Inside of the classroom, they were the most close-knit community of readers and writers that I’ve ever had the privilege of being a part of. They were the kind of class that worked their way into my heart and latched on. They are a part of my core as a teacher.

Last night I listened to one of them, Jami McDaniel Stichter, tell the story of her road to publication. The beginning of it started on the floor of our seventh grade classroom. I was just beginning to explore the power of mentor texts. Our class was in the midst of a poetry study, and I asked them to use one of the poems we’d been studying as a mentor for their own poem. Jami chose Shel Silverstein’s “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out” and wrote an original poem called “Colton Colin Coil Calloon Would Never Ever Clean His Room.” I learned a lot during the course of this unit as I huddled over writing with students during conferences. I learned about making poetry matter to middle school kids, as well as the power of a mentor text.

Several years later, for Jami’s  16th birthday, her parents had her poem published as a children’s book. It was an exciting time, and Jami began realizing she could pursue a dream of being a writer.

More years passed. Jami got married and had a baby, but the dream of being published kept nudging her. She found a writing partner and began tooling around on the internet. On a whim she submitted the poem she wrote in 7th grade to Tate Publishing. Soon she heard an answer and was signing a contract.

Last night she shared her story with elementary students at the same school she attended. I smiled as she described her transformation into a writer during 7th grade. I laughed out loud when she proclaimed, “I don’t think we did anything other than write in Mrs. Ayres’ class! Did we?”

I smiled. Yeah, I sneaked in a lot of reading and understanding conventions and learning about the way history impacts who we are today.

Jami made sure to give me the first copy of her book. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt that special. Then I opened the cover and found a personalized message from Jami. I blinked back tears. Turned the page. And was faced with the dedication.

For Ruth Ayres

You can follow Jami on Facebook. When You Don’t Clean Your Room will be released in August, but if you want a copy before then, feel free to email Jami (jamimcdanielstichter{at}gmail{dot}com) and she will work with you directly to order the book.

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

25 thoughts on “Wow. Just Wow. Leave a comment

  1. So interesting how WMS began your journey as a writer. How special for you to be part of Jami’s life as a published writer.


  2. How exciting (for both you and Jami)! I’ve heard so many Jami stories throughout the years so it’s great to put the name with the face.
    Congratulations on the publication of your book Jami!


  3. What a inspirational story, and how gratifying for you as a teacher and developer of young writers! Bravo to both you and Jami!


  4. Chills, that is the icing for sure! What an amazing story of growth and it all started in seventh grade. An inspiration for other young writers and validation for you as her teacher.


  5. We never know what influence we will have on kids or what will truly turn them on to reading or writing.
    I have a little boy in my room (gr. 3) who is “the writer extraordinaire”. He writes whenever there is a spare minute, or even when he should be working. I have said to him that I know I will be in line for his autographwhen he publuishes his first book but he has to do a bit of other work as well. And I know I will be there!
    Lovely, lovely post!


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