On Friday, 1.25.13, I had the pleasure of being invited to Career Day at the KIPP Empower Academy in Los Angeles, where I spoke to four kindergarten classrooms about being a writer.
I must admit, I was a little nervous at first. What to say, what words NOT to use, sit down or stand up, and should I use any props…? All had me a little on edge. Sounds easy to some, I’m sure, but my strengths tend to be better suited for a slightly older audience (teens).
Regardless, I was up for the challenge.
As soon as I walked into the first class, the thing that caught my attention – other than those bright young faces, excited to see a new visitor – were the navy Blue t-shirts with a Golden “UC BERKELEY” written across the front. This made me smile, of course, it being my alma mater. I suddenly felt more relaxed.
After being introduced and starting my spiel about writing, reading, and the importance of education, I only messed up one time. Well, one BIG time. It was the moment I would’ve normally said to a teen audience, something like, “So, any of you guys into Vampire Diaries? Hunger Games? Harry Potter? Monsters in general? What’s the last thriller/scary movie you watched with friends? Cabin in the Woods?” or something relatable like that…
But instead, for about 10 seconds, I remained silent, looking for the appropriate thing to say – or NOT to say. I didn’t want the young minds going home and telling their parents, “Pierce Minor talked to us about MONSTERS, and we got really, really scared.” So I kept it light and engaging, asking them instead about their favorite animals rather than bringing up werewolves and the like. Many of them seemed to side with my favorite animal, the dolphin, and grew even more excited when I mentioned my forthcoming books, The Dolphin Prince, and The Dolphin Princess – two separate books about members of a lost underwater family (and appropriate for their age level, I might add). I’ve never seen a group of kids more excited about animals, as a matter of fact.
Needless to say, things were looking up as the presentation came to a close. A few of the kids even had thoughtful questions to ask about the process of book publishing. It was a success! And the other three classes went great too, also in collegiate t-shirts – UC Santa Barbara, CSUN, and UC Davis, respectively.
This was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in a long, long time. And I can’t wait to do more school visits. Kudos to KIPP Empower Academy for doing a GREAT job teaching our children and prepping them practically and mentally – even this early – for post secondary education. I hope there’s constant improvement in early childhood education, in general, and I hope there are more KIPP schools around by the time my own children are in need of quality scholastics. And I can’t believe how well-behaved and spirited these kids were. Thank you Mrs. Turner, Ms. Cienfuegos, Ms. Mathis, and Ms. Gallo for having me! I wish I had more teachers like this when I was growing up. It’s very impressive, what they’re doing over there. I mean, I really feel like there’s hope for the future generations! GO KIPP!!
So I learned a lot from this visit, the most important being… regardless of who you are today, and where you haven’t gotten yet, please take the time when you can to give back in some way. It’ll be worth the time, I promise. And if kids are involved, you’ll leave with a renewed responsibility to your community – a new lease on life that will outlive any recognition, award or superficial status.
I sure did.
For more information on KIPP schools in Los Angeles, please visit www.kippla.org