MERCERVILLE, Ohio — Three of Superintendent Phil Kuhn’s four objectives for the Gallia County Local School District are growth, creating opportunities, and fostering a positive climate. South Gallia Principal Bray Shamblin’s school mantra is “Row the Boat.” South Gallia’s Title I Coordinator, Angela Cremeens, hit all three of those objectives and the school’s directive when she developed her idea for National Right to Read Week at South Gallia Middle School in Mercerville.
According to a news release provided to Ohio Valley Publishing by South Gallia Staff, Cremeens’ personal focus is to be the change she herself wants to see in addition to helping students understand that success is destined and achieved differently by everyone. Ms. Cremeens addresses the needs of students grades six through eight and wanted to encourage reading and writing by doing something that would catch and hold the attention of her students — and she did just that.
Cremeens worked as an event planner as well as in management in upscale restaurants prior to teaching. She brought both these worlds of experience together when she planned a gala celebrating local authors that lasted a week at SGMS. The entire week of March of 7 through March 11 brought authors from the Appalachian region to her classroom to share life experiences with middle school students about writing as well as creating opportunities for students to communicate directly with people who have the same backgrounds as do South Gallia students and become successful published authors.
According to the news release, the atmosphere in her classroom that week was charged with positivity but also resulted in personal growth from the exposure to so many and such successful people.
Monday, March 7, marked the arrival of Michelle Miller. Like many authors, Miller loved to write even as a child. She worked as a newspaper reporter and dabbled in directing dramatic productions. Through the years, Miller worked quietly on a novel that when shared with the world, was published and is the oldest sibling to her other two novels. Miller lives in southeastern Ohio and shares life with her husband, her adult children, and her many animals.
On Tuesday, March 8, poetess Mamie Morgan came to town. Morgan worked as a teacher at a fine arts high school for 14 years before opening a bridal shop in South Carolina. Morgan focused on writing for writing’s sake and encouraged students to consider the positivity that can come from composing poetry. Students engaged in poetry writing while they were with Ms. Morgan. Morgan’s first big publishing contract will come to fruition with her book of poetry that will be available to the public in 2023.
Dr. Robert Lawson lived here in Gallia County and continues to live in the region. His work and books focus on the resilience of humans and their capacity to rise above challenges that might tear them down and defeat them. Lawson has written many books and is a much sought-after presenter. His presentations focus on empowering people to overcome fear while celebrating the invincible human spirit. Dr. Lawson speaks to the innate needs students have to grow not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well.
Authoress Casey Bond hails from West Virginia where she loves stamping metal jewelry, swimming, and all of nature in general. Like Lawson, Bond’s focus in her books is on the phoenix that ultimately rises from the ashes to brilliantly overcome. Bond believes that every book needs a world in which a reader can wrap himself or herself, a character the reader wants to win, and a love for whom the reader would fight.
Also on Thursday, Gallia County native Bryna Butler shared her account of becoming a published author. Butler successfully married her career as a communications professional in corporate finance where she wrote publications and press releases about that field to the world of fiction. Her jump into young adult fiction began in 2010. Butler’s work is considered appropriate for both teens and preteens. Her characters are realistic and bear the consequences of making poor choices and yet celebrate when choices result in positive outcomes. Ms. Butler’s writing is inspired by the area in which she resides. Butler not only writes successful books in the indie genre, but she is also very supportive of her community, her husband and sons, and the local 4-H program.
To complete the week, one of the biggest supporters of young people in southeastern Ohio, Jimmy Burrow, shared on Friday, March 11. Burrow is the father of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback, Joe Burrow. In addition to being coach to his son and one of his son’s primary encouragers, Jimmy played college football at Nebraska and was drafted by Green Bay in 1976. After his time with the Packers, Jimmy played in the Canadian Football League. Post pro-football, he became an Assistant Head Coach/Defensive coordinator for Ohio University.
Coach Burrow shared a winning formula for each student to “rise up” and succeed in life.
Respect — respect everyone at all times;
Integrity — honesty and truth in all aspects of life;
Service — giving back to others;
Effort — always give 100% of myself;
Unity — work together toward a common goal;
Perseverance — never ever give up on yourself.
Burrow and his wife Robin are both credited with giving strong support and providing a positive atmosphere for all three of their sons. Education is not only important to Jimmy. His wife serves as a principal in southeastern Ohio as well.
Right to Read Week is a national endeavor to call attention to the importance of literacy and all the positive by-products that can come from reading. South Gallia Middle School students very much enjoyed the time spent with all these authors who were so willing to come and share their life stories, stated the news release.
These writers certainly were able to encourage students to follow the Right to Read slogan, “Read to know what COULD be. Believe to know where you CAN go. Succeed YOUR way, on your OWN terms.”
The news release concluded: “Ms. Cremeens’ first attempt at Right to Read Week was more than a positive success and the expectation is for the project to grow in stature and success in the coming years.”