Here’s a post I wrote back in December 2008, after my first visit to one of my favourite ever schools – North Ormseby Primary School in Middlesbrough…
I had an amazing day at North Ormesby Primary School today where I was invited along to hand out the end of term prizes – including the ‘Tommy Donbavand Writing Hero Award’ (I still smile every time I type that!)
I can honestly say that I’ve never been to a school with a more upbeat, positive attitude. Everything the staff do is geared towards promoting a love of reading and writing (which the school, rather brilliantly, sees as the key to everything else the pupils will have to face, not only in education, but for the rest of their lives). I almost cheered when, after displaying a selection of books that had been donated to the school library, the ENTIRE first row of the assembly sat down and immediately started reading. Not one of these pupils had any idea what the book they’d been handed was about – they were simply keen to jump in and learn something new. I can’t think of a better example to show that the teachers’ efforts are paying off, and will continue to do so.
It hasn’t been an easy ride, however, as I discovered when I learned of the challenges the school has had to face, and continues to do so. In many cases, it would be enough to convince the staff to switch off and go through the motions – but not at North Ormesby. There they roll up their sleeves and face the problems head on – with a great big book in each hand!
The highlight of my day was meeting the Writing Hero: a wonderfully enthusiastic lad called Kian. As part of his prize, I’m going to write him into the seventh Scream Street book as a character (he wants to be a vampire!) and I’ve already got some great ideas as to how that might work. I’m looking forward to next Halloween when Kian and I can hold a joint book signing session at the school! Kian was also kind enough to record a quick interview which I’ll be including in the Christmas edition of the Scream Street podcast – the Screamcast.
As if all this wasn’t enough, I’ve been asked by Reading Is Fundamental (part of the National Literacy Trust) to become RIF Ambassador to the school – the first pairing of its kind. Through this position, I get to add my efforts to the promotion of reading and writing at North Ormesby – a task I am humbled and honoured to undertake. I’ll be visiting the school on a regular basis to run creative writing workshops, help with reading sessions, recommend great new books and much more. I can’t wait to get started.
A fantastic day was had by all; a day during which a single thought kept running round and round my head… I wish I’d gone to North Ormesby Primary School.