Wednesday, May 18, 2011

El Rancho School Visit!

Before I got to call myself a writer, I called myself an English teacher, and in my last two years of school employment, a librarian.  I worked at a gem of a middle school in Anaheim Hills, CA--El Rancho Charter School.  The students were amazing, my coworkers the best, and it's a place I feel lucky to say I've been a part of. 

So yesterday, when I got to go back for my first author visit was a fantastically special day, which started the moment I walked up the front steps, with this:

How special is that? I teared up right then and there, but I had to suck it up, because my schedule for the day was to speak to six class periods, just like it was when I was a teacher.  Only this time, there were 4-5 classes packed into the "Little Theatre," which is exactly what it sounds like. I have pictures I took from the stage, and would love to show you the crowd, but there are tricky rules about that, so you just get me and a lot of backs of heads.   All told, 600 kids sat down to listen! (Or at least pretend to.)

 I didn't really plan, didn't outline, which is rare for me, and as soon as the first bell rang I got nervous enough to regret it.  But once all the kids filed in, it came pretty easy. I talked about how as a kid I dreamed of being a writer, how as a twenty-something I was busy raising a family and teaching, and then how when I was about to turn 30 I decided to give writing a serious shot.  I told them how if you really want something, you have to put yourself out there, go after it with everything you've got.  Yep. I decided to try and inspire. Who knows if it worked... 

At one point I said something about the main character's dad moving her to a "new beach," but judging by the laughs from the back of the room, I don't think that's what they heard. Say it out loud and picture me saying it to a hundred 8th graders.  Bet you'll laugh too. 

At break, there was a cake, and my colleagues, hugs all around, and even sand, sea glass, and a mermaid.   (El Rancho has its very own Martha Stewart, who arranges things like this.)

All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better first school visit.  El Rancho holds a special place in my heart and I can't say thank you enough to them for their support and enthusiasm.  Go Coyotes!!!


  1. Yay! Love the pictures and so glad that it went well (besides the new beach bit :) )

  2. We loved having you visit! It was very special. The kids were so excited, and so was the staff! Thanks Jessi!

  3. hey mrs kirby =) i loved your book it was amazing ur a great author and im soo glad that i got to no u my first year at el rancho it was soo much fun. p.s. do you have like an email or something where i cant reach you cause im going to canyon next year and i would really like to keep in touch so i cant read ur other books u publish which im sure will be great =) this book was amazing and i loved it - SIMI P.

  4. Hi Simi! So happy you liked it! You can email me anytime at :) Congrats on becoming a high schooler!!!

  5. Jessi, I went to El Rancho for middle school! So cool to see these photos:)