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  • Writer's pictureGina Vallance

My Zoom Visit With Sutter Middle School

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

I did it! I finally experienced my first school visit via zoom! It was so much fun meeting with the middle-grade students and teachers of Sutter Middle School.

Thanks to teacher-librarian Tammie Celi, I had the honor of zooming with 31 students. Ms. Celi was an excellent host. She has been a teacher-librarian for 20 years, and I just loved her energy and excitement about my book and books in general. Even though the visit wasn’t in person, It was still amazing to talk with the kids and share my message of self-acceptance, empowerment, and overcoming adversity. In addition, I was entirely honored by the fact that Ms. Celi also enjoyed reading my book, Amberly and the Secret of the Fairy Warriors, and she was so enthusiastic about my book’s theme and the importance of self-confidence. If you still haven't grabbed your copy of Amberly and the Secret of the Fairy Warriors, you can grab it here!

After reading the synopsis and talking about my novel’s message with the students, I shared a list of my favorite positive affirmations with them. When I heard the students repeating the self-confidence affirmations after me, I felt such a sense of warmth and purpose. After we said the affirmations aloud, I had the students write down the confidence affirmation that spoke to them personally and reminded them to repeat the affirmation to themselves daily.

Once the students wrote down the affirmation that they liked best, I spoke about the benefits of having self-confidence and showed them a diagram showing how self-confidence can benefit all of us and those around us.

One of the teachers, who also happens to be a friend of mine, Ms. Enriquez, pointed out that having self-confidence allows us to stand up for those who are victims of bullies. She encouraged the students to say something if they see something. Ms. Enriquez reminded me of how Amberly’s friend, Spice, defends Amberly when she is harassed and bullied by Javyn and Razi, two fairies who also live in Whimsical Land.

At the end of the visit, I invited the students to write their own short stories using my creative writing prompt about a miniature elephant who tries to find his real home. I also suggested that the students make their elephant say the confidence-building affirmation they chose at the end of their story once he succeeds.

I am really looking forward to reading some of the short stories written by the students and I can't wait to experience more school visits in the future!

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Having Gina Vallance Zoom visit our students was a much needed end-of-year treat! It was inspiring to see how Sutter students connected to Amberly as if she were one of their own peers. Gina was so approachable and easy to work with as we brainstormed ways to create the curriculum and present to the students. My students, teachers and I look forward to her next book! 😀 ~ Tammie Celi, Teacher Librarian

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