MIDDLEPORT — Teachers leave a lasting impression on their students and coworkers and that was certainly true of the late Carolyn Smith, according to her former student Ryan Cowan and fellow teacher Sheila Bevan.
Cowan, who is now an assistant principal at a school in Los Angeles, recently wrote a book titled “Mr. Moonbean and the Halloween Crystal.”
Bevan and some of the fellow former Middleport Elementary teachers recently purchased eight copies of Cowan’s book, which he signed, to donate to the Middleport Library in memory of Smith.
While Cowan was recently in town, he and Bevan visited the library to deliver the books, and talk with The Daily Sentinel about the project and Smith’s influence on Cowan’s work.
“She was an amazing role model; very challenging teacher; and had super high expectations but was very caring,” said Cowan.
Cowan said the first couple chapters of his book are based on his experiences at Middleport Elementary, with the details and descriptions from his memory of time there, including in Smith and Bevan’s classes.
“In the book there is cursive written on a chalkboard,” said Cowan. “That is definitely a memory I have of Carolyn Smith.”
While Cowan admitted that children may not know what a chalkboard is, he said it was important to include that in the book as it was a teacher he loved and he wanted to go back to the basics of teaching without the influence of technology.
“When Carolyn read the book she messaged and told me how proud she was that I had written a book,” said Cowan. The book helped Cowan to reconnect with Smith in the time leading up to her passing. He added that he had heard from other former teachers as well as several friends and family from the area.
“Ryan was one of her students and she encouraged his writing career,” said Bevan.
Bevan said it was important to give the books in memory of Smith to the Middleport Library as it was a place they would take their students during their teaching years at Middleport Elementary.
“This was a good way to honor her (Smith),” said Bevan of donating the books.
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Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.