Celebrating American Education Week with Jeff Kinney & NEA

Jeff Kinney with Key ES Students Photo Credit: National Educator Association

Jeff Kinney with Key ES Students Photo Credit: National Educator Association

“Nurture your dreams, let them grow, and be persistent.” 

These were Jeff Kinney’s closing words during his talk at Francis Scott Key Elementary School in Arlington, VA. He shared his love of comics, his writing inspiration, and his journey to hundreds of third, fourth, and fifth graders. The students were completely enthralled by the The Diary of a Wimpy Kid author for a solid forty-five minutes. They cheered as loudly for him as what I imagine tweens’ screams at a One Direction concert.

Behold the power of books.

Jeff Kinney at Key ES via I'm Not the Nanny

Last week, the National Education Association (NEA) invited me to participate in Educator for A Day at Key Elementary School in Arlington, VA.  Along with Jeff Kinney and fellow blogger Tonia Sanders, I was able to shadow a teacher at the school. Kinney’s rock star visit and shadowing hardworking teachers in the Spanish immersion school was part of festivities for American Education Week (AEW).

American Education Week

American Education Week was created in 1921 by NEA and the American Legion “to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education.” I’m glad I was able to join the celebration on the last day of AEW with Wimpy Kid Day.

Meeting Jeff Kinney at I'm Not the Nanny

I already knew that the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is a huge hit with children my daughter’s age. Since my daughter hasn’t read them yet, I was blown away by Key ES’ students enthusiasm upon meeting Jeff Kinney. It makes me so happy to see young kids excited about reading, thrilled about books, and awestruck by their favorite author.

Their teachers were beaming the entire morning as well. It’s obvious that the teachers have nurtured their students’ love of reading, and let them grow into the book lovers they already are. I felt the Wimpy Love.

Wimpy Guest Seating

As I sat in my “VIP Seating For Wimpy Guest” during Kinney’s presentation, I learned of how his father’s love of comics inspired him to draw comics. He shared how his path to becoming a published author was a winding road. He drew comics for his college newspaper, but found work as a graphic designer for print newspapers and, later, became the creator of  Poptropica, very popular gaming website for kids. His worked on Diary of A Wimpy Kid  for 8 years before it was published.

Now that my daughter knows that Jeff Kinney is the mastermind behind Poptropica, maybe I can convince her to read Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

I’ve never visited a Spanish immersion school and was really impressed with Key ES. All teachers are bilingual in Spanish and English. The educator I shadowed taught fifth graders all about decimals–in Spanish. Their library even had copies of Wimpy Kid books in Spanish.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book Display

Even though I know that our children’s teachers work hard and are dedicated to their students, it’s humbling to see them in action. I hope you’ll reach out to your child’s teacher and find out how you can help. While it’s hard for me to find time to volunteer as I don’t have anyone to watch my preschooler, I help out by donating supplies to the classroom. Teachers spend so much out-of-pocket for their students. When my youngest starts kindergarten next year, I plan on volunteering in the classroom.

I did, however, volunteer to teach my daughter’s class on how to make Vietnamese spring rolls next quarter when they learn about world cultures. Or maybe the teacher volunteered me. It doesn’t matter, I’m always happy to share my food with others!

How do you celebrate educators?


One Response

  1. it capstone June 27, 2015