Updated: Jun 28, 2019
By Dr. Dawn Menge
Growing up in a small mountain community enables you to build a unique bond within the community. There are perks and drawback to “everyone knows who your parents are” and “creating a lifelong connection with the people and events within a community. I not only grew up in this small community, I also taught the students with severe cognitive delays from elementary to their exiting public education at the age of twenty-two. My children attended the same schools and now my grandchildren. An exciting opportunity came from this unique bond and that is to be the featured author at the school districts yearly Young authors’ conference for the past nine years. This opportunity has created many heartfelt experiences and connections with the newly published authors from Kindergarten to twelfth grade.
A few of the memorable experiences I have is being able to read all of the stories that the students have written. They line up at our table and have us read their books and sign them. Most of the stories are based on their real events in their lives and the students all illustrate their own journeys. The proud parents carry around stacks of the books published by their children and there is a stage provided so that they can read their stories in front of an audience. It is a pivotal academic moment in these young authors’ lives and I am given the opportunity to share it with them and to also share my educational series titled, “Queen Vernita’s Visitors”. Queen Vernita is also based on my real life adventures and named after my grandmother Vernita. Each month she is visited by a new friend who is also very real in my life. Many of the parents come to add a new book to their collection and tell me that they read my books every day in their homes.