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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Speaking at LaGrange College

Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of speaking at LaGrange College, a little over an hour south of Atlanta. The drive down was non-eventful and flew by as I'm still listening to Vicky Alvear Shecter's CLEOPATRA'S MOON on audio (I was one of her early readers too). SO good.
     I drove through the very sweet and very clean little downtown of LaGrange, Georgia to the college campus where the head of security, Michael, met me, escorted me to a parking space on campus, then gave me a guided tour of the college in his golf cart. (Thank you Michael!) What a BEAUTIFUL campus, with hanging swings everywhere and relaxing places for students to hang out. He also gave me a few minutes to walk around the art building which was truly stunning. The building was newly renovated and shone like the architectural masterpiece that it was. Their main art collection was also on display, including a sculpture by my fave, Henry Moore.
     Then back to the library where I met my host, Charlene Baxter. She's invited so many of my fellow children's book author friends to speak at LaGrange, we're all fans of hers!
     She led me to the most beautiful lecture hall I've ever had the pleasure to speak in:

     No media carts in this room! A screen dropped down from the ceiling and synced up with a laptop by the podium. I shared my online slideshow and while it worked fine, I will definitely bring a backup powerpoint on a thumb drive next time as the connection was a bit slower than I would have liked. I had a full room as I talked about being a children's book author/illustrator, how I work, and how much of what I do can apply to their lives as well.
     One attendee even drove an hour to be there (he was a former student) and asked advice. I was so flattered and hope I gave him some good information (he had nice work).
     My only disappointment was that I was still in my boot (and only ONE crutch) and wasn't able to be as dynamic and walk around like I usually do. I hope they enjoyed it anyway. I got some nice comments afterwards.
     Lunch was catered sammies with the Education Faculty, (Hi Margie, Becky, Eric, and Rachel!) and we had a great discussion about strong female protagonists in Young Adult fiction.
     Next I got to speak to a classroom of education students about Technology and the Future of Reading. Have I mentioned that I adore talking to college students? I forget how young they are and how much they have to learn, because they all sit there looking like little adults. And I often assume that because people are young, they must be plugged in to all the technology. Well, that isn't always the case and I had the great pleasure of showing the students things that made their heads nearly explode. (Lots of wide eyes and "Wow!"s.) It was a smaller environment so I was able to move around a bit more and felt much more at home talking to these guys. Their many, many questions were great too, so I had an absolute blast with that group.
     They also did a write up at the LaGrange blog (CLICK HERE).
     All said, I fell in love with LaGrange college. It truly is a gem in Georgia with dedicated teachers, excellent facilities and a generally great vibe. I hope I get to visit again soon!

Photos by Rachel Evans - thanks Rachel!

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