Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?

This is a timely topic because I was asked that question just a few days ago by a student when I was giving an author presentation in western Minnesota. The answer was simple: I'd still be a teacher (though after reading Christy's post, I'd be tempted to go into textile design).

This is a photo of me with my fourth grade class back in 1987. Strange to think that my students in the photo are now older than I was when the picture was taken! I was only able to recall about a quarter of the names of these children without checking my notes on the photo, but I remembered just about every one of their personalities, and something memorable that they said or did. George brought a bucket of frogs to school one day, and they escaped and hopped all over the classroom. Lucas, for Show and Tell, burped the entire alphabet and then answered questions from the rest of the class in 'Burp Talk.' Carl drank two cartons of milk every day at lunch for the whole year because I had once said that milk had made me tall, and he was tired of being the shortest in the class. Darlene loved homework and begged for more. Jessica's poem that she gave me on the last day of school still hangs on my kitchen wall:

Mr LaRochelle is tall,
and he is not so mean at all!
Drawing he likes to do,
Maybe he'll draw you!
I would like to see him on skates,
He could look right through the gates.
Although he is my favorite teacher,
He does not make a very good creature.
I will not forget him,
Because he was not a bit too prim.

Wherever they are now, I hope they are all happy and doing well.

I only lasted four years as a teacher before I got my first book contract and decided to see if I could make a go of it as an author and illustrator. Though I very much enjoy working with students now as the visiting author, I still miss the connections and impact I had back when I was a classroom teacher.

And it just so happens that tomorrow I head back to the very school where I used to teach, to work as the visiting author with the fourth and fifth graders there. It has been years since I've been back. Life is indeed an amazing circle.


Stephanie said...

I love this! Such great stories. And I bet you were a fabulous teacher.

Christy said...

I particularly love the burp talk, and it's so telling what kind of teacher you were, that you didn't stop Lucas after the letter A!

It's fun to see a picture of you at that time. I wonder if there will be any teachers left you recognize when you visit the school tomorrow.

I'm convinced that all these parts of our lives "weave" together.

Edie said...

It's obvious you have a huge impact on students, both as a teacher and as an author/illustrator! Enjoy your visit back to the school.

Lauren said...

I love the classroom stories David! The frogs jumping all around-- it sounds as if you were an inspirational teacher-- just as you are an inspirational author/illustrator.-- I too wonder if there are any teacher colleagues still at the school. I hope the visit goes very well.

john said...

Welcome home, David. What a circle and what an inspiration for both students and teachers.

David LaRochelle said...

I'm just back from spending two days at my old school, and there were indeed a handful of teachers who were there 22 years ago when I was teaching! It was an especially odd feeling to visit my old classroom where I had spent so much time as teacher. A lot had changed, but the bulletin boards were still painted the same color and the cupboards were still the same. It seemed impossible 22 years had passed...but then again, I've had an entire new career in those years.

Christy said...

David, Thanks for following up and letting us know about your old school. Sounds like it's time to get some painters in there (22 year-old paint). Geesh!

Mark said...

Sounds like a lot of great memories to draw on for your stories and illustrations!!