Interview with Dani Duck

Interview with Suzy Leopold

Suzy Leopold is a very talented writer, painter and educator. The paintings you see are ones she created herself! Suzy lives in Staunton, Illinois with her husband Perry. She has five boys and is a grandmother to seven grandchildren. Suzy has Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s of Science degree in Reading. She likes cycling, jogging, crafting and gardening. She has a profound passion for learning, and she works towards teaching children the important skills they need to become successful not only at school, but in life as well. Suzy doesn’t ignore parents in the learning process but empowers” parents and guardians with tips and tools that are needed to support their child’s learning at home and at school, prepares the child for a successful future.” With her love of education comes the desire to help children everywhere experience the joy of reading. You can visit Suzy’s blog here: https://sleopoldblog.wordpress.com/

1. You say that you aren’t a published writer, but you just got an article published in the Macoupin County Enquirer~Democrat. How does it feel to have an article published?

      Excited and encouraged, is how I feel as a published writer.  Excited to have my first published article in a local newspaper, Macoupin County ~ Carlinville Enquirer~Democrat on January 9, 2014.  The title of the article is:  Make a Personal or Family Resolution and Fulfill the Promise.  As part of the Enquirer~Democrat Write Team, I have the opportunity to share five more columns throughout the year.  Encouraged, I feel, to fulfill a dream of becoming a published children’s picture book author as I continue to hone the craft of writing.
2. Does having a class full of 3, 4 and 5 year-olds help you with your writing, or does it hinder you?
     As an educator of hundreds of students, throughout the years, from preschool through eighth grade, along with college level students,  I find my career  supports my desire to write, along with instilling the love and value of reading with all who pass through my classroom door.
      Read alouds are always shared with students, on a daily basis, in    my classroom.  Reading to children should begin with young babies and toddlers, using board books while vocabulary is developed along with listening and speaking skills.  Preschoolers enjoy picture books with rhyme and rhythm and repetition.  Interactive books, such as lift the flap books, are great choices for the preschool years.  Children that are read to develop literacy skills, increased vocabulary, and acquire many concepts, which prepares a child for success in school as he/she enters prekindergarten and kindergarten.  As a student becomes an independent reader, read alouds should continue throughout a student’s school career.  Introducing students to a wide variety of genres, both fiction and non fiction, promotes the importance and value of reading.
     What an honor to share read alouds with my English Language Learners [ELLs}, from throughout the world: Sweden, Mexico, Cambodia, Columbia, Japan, Germany, Korea, and China,to name a few countries. Sharing read alouds with my ELLs, provides a better understanding for content area subjects, of Math, Science and Social Studies.  The high expectation to master required concepts, can be achieved through the simpler language of picture books, and provide mastery of the required objectives, when picture books are read to my ELLs in prekindergarten to eight grade.
     As I prepare college level students, to become future teachers, I share read alouds with young adult students in our Integrated Language Arts class.  I model, for my adult students, the gift of reading and the benefits of sharing books with their future students.
     My current teaching assignment is in an early childhood classroom at St. Michael’s School.  Such a joyful heart, I have, as I share the love of reading with my three, four and five year olds, on a daily basis.  Everyday the children grow as readers, writes, and creators.   Everyday, as their teacher, Mrs. Sue, grows as a reader, writer and creator.  My preschoolers teach me so much and I am thankful for the many ideas and topics, that the students share with me, that I can write about.
3. What made you want to become a writer?
     The Cat in the Hat, Charlotte’s Web, Good-night Moon, Stuart Little and Winnie the Pooh are all beloved children’s books that my Mom read to me fifty plus years ago.  You may recognize the list of classic book titles, may have listened to, or even read the same books as a kid.
     I am so thankful that my Mom instilled the value of reading in me.  She modeled for my sister and me the value of learning, as young children.  Visiting the public library and checking out a tall stack of favorite books, and sometimes checking out the same titles numerous times, was a family event that we enjoyed, prior to kindergarten and continued throughout our attendance in elementary school.  Reading picture books to my sister and I was a special time when Mom shared the joy of reading with us.  Reading was part of our daily routine, usually as a bedtime ritual, while cuddling in bed or sitting together in a big, comfy chair.
     So, just like I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up, I also knew I want to be an author of children’s picture books, when I grow up. So, I will continue to follow the dream.
4. I know that you paint as well, do you think that you’ll end up doing some illustrations for a future book?
     Being a creative crafter, from sewing, to acrylic and watercolor painting and a wide variety of arts and crafts is also an interest of mine.  What an amazing goal to reach for and to become an author of a children’s picture book, and an illustrator of children’s picture books.
5. What are some of the things you are doing this year to further your writing career?
     To further develop my many interests of reading, writing and creating, can sometimes be a challenge to balance all that life brings my way as I find time to pursue creative opportunities.  For the first time, I participated in PiBoIdMo by Tara Lazar in November 2013 and Shannon Abercrombie’s Start the Year Off Write 2014.  I belong to a picture book critique group and enjoy reading many tips, ideas, and suggestions about becoming an author, from numerous blogs and books.
6. I know you have a passion for literacy, so is there anything you’d like to share about the importance of literacy for young readers?
      Sharing the importance of the love of learning is a passion of mine. The key to learning and growing is in the power of the written word. Knowing how to read, comprehend what is read and the skill of writing are required skills that will equal student success.
     Do you value literacy and the importance of reading everyday?  Do you promote the love of reading everyday?  Parents can help promote their child’s literacy and the development of reading comprehension.  Even before a child can exhibit the skill of reading, young children begin to acquire basic concepts about literacy.  The single most important activity for building these understandings and skills, that are essential for reading success, is reading aloud to children.  Board books read to babies from birth develops the infant’s brain that continues to develop during the first year of life. Nursery rhymes read to tiny toddlers, lays the foundation for language development. Picture books read to children during the preschool years, builds success in learning. Reading to and with elementary school age kids, equals expanded vocabulary and builds a foundation for student achievement.
     Want your child to be a better reader, develop the habit of reading as lifelong learning, and be successful in school?  It is plain and simple; just read.  Reading is magic.  Read, write and create everyday.

http://daniduckart.blogspot.com

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About Prairie Garden Girl

I am a wife who is adored by my Sweet Perry. Together we are parents to five boys and grandparents to seven unique grands. Pa Perry and Oma Sue love instilling the love of learning in the hearts of Johannah, Joshua & Jaxon; Henry & Charlotte and Lily & Lane. I am a reader. I am an aspiring children's picture book writer. I am a creator who sews and paints with acrylics and watercolors and sketches with colored pencil. I am an educator to hundreds of students, throughout the years. I am a cyclist on a pink Marin Portofina, and a 5K jogger. Perry and I are organic gardeners and enjoy homesteading on the Illinois prairie. Life is a beautiful ride with my Sweet P. Together, Perry and I feel life is a journey filled with joy. We want to live our lives by leaving the world a better place.
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