Students at Springer School and Center enjoyed a multisensory peek into the life of a writer and poet when George Ella Lyon visited the school for students with learning disabilities in November. Lyon enthralled students of every grade level with her personal stories, visual demonstrations and music played on a washboard.
To visually display the time invested in writing and editing the words in a picture book, Lyon shared a laminated scroll which, when unrolled, contained all the pages of drafts for one of her picture books. The students held up the scroll as Lyon unrolled it, circling the room twice with its length. Using a series of overlain acetate sheets, Lyon demonstrated how the rich illustrations in one of her books was printed in layers, using just the three primary colors and black.
Through her picture book “The Pirate of Kindergarten,” Lyon shared with Springer’s youngest children the feelings she had as a young child with double vision, and how she felt when the problem was surgically corrected. She invited the students to share their feelings about struggles they have encountered, and some spoke about their experiences with a learning disability.
Springer’s Middle School students learned about George Ella Lyon the activist as she shared a book of poetry centered around the 1963 March on Washington at which Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Sixth-grader Alaina Stacy, was impressed with the program. “Ms. Lyon had an interesting past,” she said. Eighth-grader Alexis Marroso agreed, saying “She inspired me to have confidence and make my own choices.” Cali Turner, a seventh-grader, enjoyed the song Lyon played with washboard accompaniment. “I am definitely going to read some of her books,” she added.
“I was so impressed with Springer students,” said Lyon. “They were attentive, responsive, and full of good questions. That means, of course, that I was impressed with the teachers too. I felt a wonderful spirit of commitment and cooperation throughout the day, and I hope to have a chance to work with Springer again.”
A resident of Lexington, Kentucky, George Ella Lyon has published over forty books including picture books for children, and poetry, fiction and memoir books for teens and adults. She holds a PhD in English from Indiana University, and has received awards for her work that include ALA’s Schneider Family Book Award, a Jane Addams Honor, a Golden Kite, the Appalachian Book of the Year, and the Bluegrass Award. Lyon’s poem “Where I’m From” has been used as a writing model around the world. She was Kentucky’s Poet Laureate for 2015-2016.