By Erin Levasseur, Staff Writer
Recently, notable Maine children’s author and former UMF faculty member, Lynn Plourde, gave an enthusiastic presentation entitled “An Author’s Advice on Teaching Writing” to students in the Roberts Learning Center at an event hosted by the Student Education Association of Maine (S. E. A. M.) club. Plourde is author of 29 published children’s books, with four new publications hitting shelves in 2016. Some of her more notable titles include “Wild Child,” “Pigs in the Mud,” and “Moose, Of Course!”
Plourde spoke to aspiring teachers in the Elementary Education and Early Childhood programs. “I usually talk to kids during my author visits to schools, but I’ve also presented at teacher workshops and conferences and to some college classes at times,” said Plourde in an email interview. “When I share writing mini-lessons with students at schools, I also consider it professional development for teachers as they get to see how I teach their students to do a new kind of writing. I always hope teachers will take away a trick or two on how to teach writing.”
Shawna Oliver, vice president of S. E. A. M. and a long time admirer of Plourde’s work, was responsible for inviting her to present. “In my initial invitation e-mail to Lynn, I attached a photo of a page from one of my family’s photo albums,” said Oliver while smiling brightly. “We were all dressed in our pajamas, Lynn included, at her reading of ‘Pajama Day’ at the Fairfield Public Library.”
Many students, including Oliver, were amazed at Plourde’s high energy level during her presentation. She quickly maneuvered between the document camera that shared her plans for the evening and a table holding her books, idea notebook, and other cherished personal items, such as a story written for her by a young boy. “Lynn is so animated when she reads her books and it made me see how much more engaging a read aloud can be when the reader plays the part,” said Oliver.
The audience created a story together with Plourde and performed the skit on the spot. She narrated the performance using comical voices for the different characters and lead the audience in boisterous gestures. “I was so impressed with the way she could create a great story on the spot,” said junior and S. E. A. M. treasurer Ranae Carlson. “Her high energy throughout the performance was contagious and resulted in a great time had by all.”
Plourde’s talk also highlighted her writing career. “I had thirteen long years of rejection before any of my books were published,” said Plourde, on a more serious note. She encouraged her audience to persevere and not be afraid of inevitable rejection along the way, and added that she credits these rejections for making her a better writer.
Plourde hopes that attendees to her presentation continue to learn and encourage others to do so as well. “Learning is a journey and a joy. We must never stop learning. The students we teach must never stop learning. The more we know the more we know we need to know,” said Plourde. “I tell kids during my author visits that I am still learning to be a better author—I am not the best author I can be yet. Life is a journey. Learning is a journey. I can’t wait to learn more!”