Classroom chronicles: Stories, experiences woven into new book from Navasota school faculty

Todd Nesloney

Todd Nesloney

Founder & Author of "Kids Deserve It", White House Champion of Change, BAMMY Principal & Teacher of the Year

Classroom chronicles

Texas A&M graduate Todd Nesloney, who has served as principal at Webb Elementary for four years, didn’t just get book contributions from teachers, but also the school librarian, secretary, school nurse and others in the educational system. While there are stories about experiences teaching children, staff members also shared stories about trying to teach while grieving through a miscarriage, losing a student to Child Protective Services custody, integrating faith and religion into daily life and using unique reading programs to get children excited about books.

Staff of John C. Webb Elementary School who contributed to the new book Stories from Webb.

In December 2016, John C. Webb Elementary School Principal Todd Nesloney was listening to ideas from the staff at the Navasota school when he came up with an idea.

He decided to gather the thoughts and experiences into one book -- and the new book Stories from Webb was born.

"I wanted to celebrate one group of teachers from one school, sharing their stories and having those stories out there for everyone to learn from," Nesloney said.

The Texas A&M graduate, who has served as principal at Webb Elementary for four years, didn't just get contributions from teachers, but also the school librarian, secretary, school nurse and others in the educational system. While there are stories about experiences teaching children, staff members also shared stories about trying to teach while grieving through miscarriage, losing a student to Child Protective Services custody, integrating faith and religion into daily life and using unique reading programs to get children excited about books.

"When I first asked 'my team' to write something for me, I said that if anybody had anything that was pressing on their heart, they should send it my way," Nesloney said.

Nesloney knits excerpts and sentences and pages of contributions into his writing, and shares some of his own thoughts. Students mentioned in stories remain anonymous, and though mature topics such as grieving are addressed, nothing inappropriate is included, he said.

The book is not sanctioned by the Navasota school district.

Anna Wilkerson, a fourth-grade teacher at Webb, contributed a few paragraphs to the book. Wilkerson, who has been teaching for about three years, shared a story of a boy in her class who was experiencing challenges and how she worked to encourage him on the path to improvement. Though she had been initially concerned that she hadn't been able to help him, at the end of the school year the boy's mother contacted her and said her son was happier at school than ever.

"Even when you don't think you're making a difference as an educator, you're making an impact," Wilkerson said. "You just might not see it at first for a little while."

The more senior fourth-grade faculty serve as mentors to Wilkerson, and she said she has enjoyed reading their excerpts in the book. With much of the faculty reading the book this month after the early release, there has been a deepening of staff relationships as they begin to understand more about one another.

"Just to know what's going on below the surface with someone is great," Wilkerson said.

The book published by Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. was released to the public Jan. 24. While it hasn't hit bookstores yet, it can be purchased online through Barnes & Noble and through Amazon.

Nesloney, who also co-wrote the book Kids Deserve It, said feedback on Stories From Webb has been positive, with teachers and staff receiving emails from readers who were touched by the stories.

"I'm hopeful that readers will walk away with a sense of 'Hey, maybe I have a story, too. Maybe I can share mine.' "

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