Michael's Musings

My Year of School Visits

EDIT 2: Since this writing, my school tour has grown more ambitious. Ten schools, five days? Pssh. Try twenty schools, ten days! Read the latest here.

EDIT: It looks like I have an anchor for my Spring 2013 mini-tour (see below). I’ll be a little bit north of Chicago for one of the 5 days. So, if you’re another school close to Chicago or a little north…well, that visit needs a partner!

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(This blog entry is dedicated to Mr. Colby Sharp, teacher, reader, and friend extraordinaire. Without his support and enthusiasm, I might never have caught the school visit bug. Thanks for giving this new author star treatment!)

School’s out for the summer in my neighborhood, so I thought I’d take a moment to tally up my school visit data for the year.

This was my first year visiting schools as an author. I did my very first school visit on October 7th, 2011 at Washington Elementary School, just outside the City of Pittsburgh — about 15 minutes from my house. I spoke with two classrooms of about twenty kids apiece.

On Tuesday of this week, I did my final school visit of the year at Propel Braddock Hills, a charter school that is fittingly quite close to Washington. There I held a pair of assemblies with about 125 kids apiece.

In between those two dates, I ended up doing quite a bit of visiting elsewhere — some virtually, but mostly in person. Here are the totals from my in-person visits this year:

States visited: 4. (I visited schools in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and California. I also did book events in Florida, Texas, and New York, but I’m only tracking school stuff here.)

Schools visited: 20. (I did another half-dozen virtual visits as well, to schools in Florida, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio.)

Students spoken to: about 4500. (Virtual visits would bump that to about 4750.)

On top of my twenty schools, I also did a half-dozen speaking engagements for parents, and had the pleasure of sharing my “Rules For Writers” talk with about 250 kids during my county library system’s Children’s Choice Awards.

So when I add it all up, I shared what I know with about 5,000 kids this year. I think I did some good.

But next year, I want to do better.

My goals for 2012-2013: double everything.

I want to do schools in at least eight states. West Virginia, Kentucky, Western New York, Washington, DC (you count as a “state” in my book!) — your proximity puts you at the top of my list. But Indiana, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, even Illinois…I’m game for a road trip if you want me there!

I want to see 40 schools-full of students.

I want to see 10,000 K-6 smiles.

And lastly, I want to launch my next book not in a store, but in a school. A whole bunch of schools. So I might as well announce my idea now, so I don’t chicken out when faced with the reality of making it happen. When my new Latasha book comes out in the spring, I want to celebrate with a 5-day, 10-school tour. That’s Monday to Friday, two schools a day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. And if you’re within 500 miles of Pittsburgh, your school is in the running. You heard it here first, and now I hope I’ll hear from you!

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