Borland Manor Elementary School third-grade teacher Mrs. Jeanna Reda said she came up with the idea for her class to write books last year.
During the 2019-2020 school year, after the students completed the reading unit on biographies, usually by October, Reda assigned each student with a “Who was...” book to read and do a report.
The students loved reading these books and could not get enough of them.
Around that same time, Borland Manor’s Parent Faculty Organization (PFO) asked each classroom to make a poster for an assigned officer that could be hung up as decoration during the Police Appreciation luncheon. As part of that poster project they felt it would be a good idea if the class could invite the assigned officer into the classroom and do an interview so the students could connect with the person they were making the poster for. This is how the idea of writing the “Who Is” book came to be.
“We wrote two books last year and presented them to two North Strabane Township police officers, Sgt. Schmeltz and Officer Bliss, during our annual Police Appreciation Lunch. Borland Manor was not able to have the luncheon this year due to COVID, but my class still wanted to write a book to honor another officer. The book was written after learning the features of a biography and interviewing the officer,” Reda said.
Reda approved the questions the students asked the officers before the interviews. The class went through the features of a biography and came up with questions that they could ask for each feature. Reda also let them submit any additional questions they might want to ask. The day of the interview all the students were able to ask questions.
Since Borland Manor was in a hybrid setting at the time, the students at home joined in live through Google Meet to ask questions and participate in the interview.
From the time of the interview to receiving the books back from the publisher took about two months. Reda worked with a company called School Mate Publishing, and the classroom also partnered with John McFarland who drew the front cover.
“School Mate Publishing offers the perfect way to make writing and drawing fun for your students – turn them into published authors,” the publishing company’s website said. “With our fast and easy student publishing program each student submits 2 pages of original writings and illustrations to publish one combined class book at home or school. Best of all, there’s no cost to your school.”
This year’s book was written for Borland Manor’s School Resource Officer Brian Hart.
Reda and her students presented the book to Hart. The students did a great job keeping this a secret from him, especially since they see him everyday during lunch.
Hart was surprised and loved the book.
“I can’t wait to read the whole thing,” he said. “I really appreciate this. This is very nice. I’m very happy to have it. Thank you so much.”
Borland Manor Principal Marella McConnell said she is so thankful to have a students resource officer like Hart
“We are grateful to the district, in partnership with the North Strabane Township Police Department, for providing us with a school resource officer,” McConnell said. “Officer Hart is one of many on the force that truly enjoys being a part of every aspect of our community. We feel greatly blessed to have his presence and for him being interwoven into the fabric of our Borland Manor school community.”