Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Interview with Patricia Rowe

Patricia Rowe is a retired teacher who has taught in schools in Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania. Her first book, The Other Side of the Desk: A Teacher Remembers, relates stories shared by her students throughout her teaching career. It is her hope that her book encourages readers to make the most of their public school system, and to hold them accountable for the material they teach their students. Patricia sat down with us to talk about her experiences writing her first book.

BDWN: Thanks for speaking with us, Patricia! Can you tell usa little bit about your book The Other Side of the Desk: A Teacher Remembers?

PATRICIA: This book relates memorable moments that a teacher shared with her students during her lifetime career. Days in school can be happy, sad, sometimes funny or exasperating, but never boring . I see teaching as a serious and important opportunity to assist students to build productive lives and good citizens.

BDWN: How long did it take you to finish writing the book?

In 1957 I began to save stories of classroom happenings. I just wrote them up briefly in longhand (no typewriters) and stuck them in an envelope. In 2008 my husband was placed in an assisted living facility so I had extra time on my hands. I became aquainted with a person who was skilled in computer technology who needed some work so I told her I would pay her to type it up for me. Then I discovered she knew all the computer language and was set up to actually upload, download and she actually got me hooked up with the publisher and was willing to do the editing etc. In the meantine, I also moved to be with my husband. So the end of March, I was connected and by September it was published.

BDWN: We're always interested in learning about other writers' processes and work schedules. What kind of writing schedule works best for you?

PATRICIA: Personal discipline is very important . I schedule in a bit of writing daily and keep an eye on the deadline. I did not grow up in a family that pushed education; we were just common, hard working folks. I believe that God put it in my mind to save the stories. Later I wanted something to share with my family and someday, maybe would share it. Then at this particular time, I was motivated to write up the stories. Then the thought came to me that I can not just tell stories, but must have an introduction and a summary, or conclusion. Then my computer friend showed up and she filled the need for a computer programmer type person. At 75, I had only basics. I found an ad that I tore out of a Sword of the Lord newspaper in the 80's about "Have You Thought of Writing a Book?" That is where the interest ended. Then when I found the ad, we talked about it and I sent for information and before I knew it I was under contract, with the publisher. The initial typing , which I did, took about 6 months with no direct plan. Then when my friend began to type the work, edit and we moved ahead with specific direction, from March to September - 6 months of a rewriting- editing, pattern until published.

After I had determined to get it published, a personal discipline was needed to keep at it and work with my computer person as a team and we stayed with it. To accomplish this task there should be a daily amount of writing/editing to maintain a proper level of interest and passion for the message.

BDWN: What was one of the most important lessons you learned in your teaching career?

PATRICIA: The important message that I learned began with my undergratuate education which was that you must establish a purpose, keep your eye on it, use a system to fulfill it . That need for a purpose will probably be the guide for your life. If you do not have a purpose then your direction and outcomes are questionable and unsuccessful. You can not be successful if you do not know what it is that you want to succeed it. That focus is essential.

BDWN: What have you been hearing from your readers?

PATRICIA: The mentor who referred me for a scholarship in 1952 has read it and said,".. your book is one of the best educational books i have ever read and I believe every educator should read it." She is an author , in the Education Hall of Fame in Illinois and Professor Emeritus,Retired. I cherish that review.
All others have said how much they have enjoyed it and one young father just Sat. night told me that he sat down after work at about 10:30 and started reading the book. He said "the next time I looked it was 2:30 - I couldn't put it down." My mentor also said that each of the stories " is like a mini novel". I am thrilled with the positive responses I am getting.

BDWN: What do you hope readers will take away from this book, and from your teaching experiences?

PATRICIA: It is my hope that the readers will understand that just because children are in school, they are not necessarily in a safe place, are not automatically being educated, and the parenting must not stop when their children are in the hands of someone else- even if it is the public school. It has to be a partnership. Children are in school- away from the values of their home every day, all day for 180 days among all kinds of children, beliefs, behaviors which are influencing their children. Be a full time parent. Teachers- think about what it is you are doing with other peoples children who will be tomorrow's citizens.They get one chance at each grade.

BDWN: What's next for you?

PATRICIA: I am trying to move along with my life story for my children to have because we have not been together except for a week or 2 a year, and I must pass on to them how good God has been to me and to share His blessings with them so they can pass those values along to all generations. Also I want to do my part to help get our country back on its feet . I believe that the school must get back to its purpose and leave the family values to the family. The parents must once again learn to discipline their children, teach them the values on which our country was built , enforce them and LIVE THEM!! If in the years I have left I can have a part in this I will have achieved my purpose.

1 comment:

  1. Patricia,

    I bought this book when I was at the BDWN conference earlier in the year and I'm reading it now. You've done a great job, with well told, nicely written stories. I just finished reading Frank McCourt's memoir "Teacher Man" and have renewed my enthusiasm and gratitude for teachers. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Jerry Waxler
    Memory Writers Network