Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The "Angels in Charge" Scholarship Winners - Part 1

The"Angels in Charge" Scholarship
recipients have been named and the awards presented.  

Two high school seniors from Newtown High School, Julia and Danielle, were chosen earlier in June as recipients for the "Angels in Charge" Scholarship Award.  Both girls received a $1250 scholarship that was generated from the sale of my children's story, The Little Lambs and the Very Special Mission.  The girls were chosen by a panel of adults from Newtown High School.  They met the academic requirements, were involved in school activities, and have been very active in their community.  Both girls were influenced by kids and both plan to pursue careers in education.

Today, I'm going to tell you about Julia, one of this year's "Angel in Charge" award winners.  

In addition to her academics and activities at school, Julia is a religious education teacher in Newtown. She teaches first graders.  After the tragedy at Sandy Hook, she said, "my students, who survived the events at Sandy Hook, were severely traumatized. Week after week, I looked into many sad eyes and listened to their detailed stories of exactly what happened and how much they missed the teachers and friends they had lost. Week after week, I had to help calm the children when they ducked for cover when the heater made loud, terrifying sounds.  Week after week, I had to dig deep and find the strength to be the the rock that these children desperately needed after their world had been turned upside down.

"Ready or not, I had to rise to the occasion and be the adult, no matter how painful.  I needed to be there even if all I could do was listen and hold them tightly; many classes, this was all that I was able to do for my first graders.  It was essential for me to provide stability and consistency. Together we would learn resiliency.

"After one of my little girls divulged with tearful eyes our first class back [after the tragedy] that I was 'the only teacher she had left now,' I realized that we had to put curriculum aside and focus on what the kids needed most - love and security."

In her essay, Julia goes on to say that she was determined to help be a source of comfort and love for her students.  Cozy teddy bears were brought in for the kids, special "sweet dreams" pillow cases were made for them, and therapy dogs visited her class to help provide comfort.  She said that it took months before she saw smiles on the faces of the kids again, but they made remarkable progress.  She ended her essay by saying: "Every single one of these students holds a special place in my heart. I was determinded to make a lasting impression on their lives and help them begin to heal like the rest of our town.  Together we faced the future with courage, faith, and most importanly, love."

To me, Julia is already an "Angel in Charge."  Through her work, action, compassion, and example, she is helping to make the world a better place. Thank you, Julia, and best of luck in the future.  You are going to make a wonderful teacher!

Thanks also to everyone who purchased my book and / or made donations to help make the "Angels in Charge" scholarship happen.

Much love, Rhonda Paglia "Grammy Pags"

Tomorrow I will tell you about the other "Angels in Charge" Scholarship recipient, Danielle.

Rhonda Paglia is a children's author, a retired elementary teacher, and a "not so retired" grandmother from Pennsylvania.  "Grammy Pags" as she is called, is the author of 4 children's books.  

Author Rhonda Paglia with
student co-illustrator, Taylor Galaska
"The Little Lambs and the Very Special Mission" was the first story she released to the public.  This story came to her during her prayers for the children, teachers, and familes after the tragedy at Sandy Hook.  This gentle, sweet story is dedicated to the children and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School with the goal of helping the world become a better place.  All the profits from the sale of this book go to the "Angels in Charge" Scholarship Award for students graduating from Newtown who meet the requirements and are planning a career in education.  

Other books by Rhonda Paglia: 

"Doonsey's Beach Adventure, the Great Rescue"  and "Doonsey's Beach Adventure, the Great Rescue, Coloring and Activity Book."  Doonsey is a little ocean crab that loves to explore.  His quiet exploring day becomes a great rescue day in the fun little adventure about a beach crab with a big heart.

Her newest books is, "Three Little Gnomes and a Boy Named Orion."  Three little gnomes discover that they have a big problem.  They look for the solution and make a new friend in the process. 

All books are appropriate for kids 2+, reading level: grades 2 & 3.