Newbery award winning author visits freshman English class

Sophia Bradley

Everyone dreams of meeting their idols. Some people wind up on the lucky end and get to meet the people they look up to. Freshman English teacher Abby Scoresby was among those luckier people when one of her favorite authors flew all the way from England to visit her and her students.

“It was shocking, that was probably the biggest emotion I was feeling,” Scoresby said. “I had a lot of gratitude for meeting someone who’s kind of a hero to me and is a good representation of a strong black man who cares so much about literature, sports literacy, and reaching young readers. I felt a lot of shock but also a lot of gratitude.”

Scoresby started reading Kwame Alexander’s books when she was researching sports literature in college. Being one of the most popular sports literacy authors, some of Scoresby’s friends and professors introduced Scoresby to the books and sparked her love for reading and teaching them now. Alexander came to visit her classes after receiving an email from Scoresby expressing gratitude for his books. 

“I sent the email at the beginning of January. I know how impactful he can be and I know he really believes in literacy, and that’s something that I was worried about teaching and conveying to my students,” Scoresby said. “I reached out to him because I wanted to share those messages and how impactful his literature had been to me and how it has shaped me.”

Without asking him to visit her, Alexander felt obligated to come to show his appreciation and love to Scoresby.

“I feel like teachers have been through a lot these past two years during the pandemic and the lockdown, and I don’t know if they were appreciated as much as they should have been,” Alexander said. “I wanted to show love to teachers. And I did that. I chose to do that by showing up here for Abby.”

Not only was Scoresby surprised by the visit, but her students were also gifted with meeting and talking with him.

“Him visiting us was so exciting,” freshman Arion Escamilla said. “The vibe that he gave off, the way he walked in, and his energy made it all exciting.”

Alongside Scoresby, many of her students share the same interests and likings when it comes to Alexander’s books. Rebound from the “Crossover” series is a shared favorite among her classroom for many reasons.

“I thought it did a good job teaching about things that are important to me such as empathy, hard work, and understanding other people,” Scoresby said. “It really stood out to me and had a lot of things that are similar to the lessons that I try to teach in my class.”

With the help of Alexander’s books, Scoresby is able to teach her students valuable lessons that will help them in their lives outside the classroom.

“I think really I just wanted to come here to say thank you to teachers,” Alexander said. “I wanted to say thank you to these people who are doing this sacred work of nurturing young minds and developing them into beautiful people.”

Scoresby chooses to share and teach Alexander’s books in the classroom to give her students a sample of well written literature that isn’t what is typically used in the learning environment. 

“I want my students to see beautiful words and how language can be used,” Scoresby said. “I think his texts give them a chance to see beautiful language besides Shakespeare and classical literature. I think it opens their eyes to lots of different types of literature and languages and is very accessible for lots of different types of readers.”

Alexander compares reading a book to getting a hug as both can be comforting to an individual.

“You’re able to hold on to some story that makes you feel good about who you are,” Alexander said. “It makes you understand your place in this world or makes you imagine what’s possible. When you take away a book, you take away all that. We all need a hug. We all need to be held by history, to be hugged by what’s possible in the future. Right? You can’t disagree with that.”

Alexander coming to meet and speak with the classes helped create a better understanding of what he writes about for Scoresby and her students.

“I think meeting him helped my students connect a real person to a book,” Scoresby said. “Sometimes it’s hard to remember that there is actually a living, breathing human who looks like them and who cares about things they care about that wrote the book. I think meeting him helped close that gap.”

There is a story and a person behind everything, which persuaded Alexander to go through with visiting Scoresby.

“I felt like my mom, may she rest in peace, who was a teacher, was saying ‘Kwame, you need to go and show this teacher some love,’” Alexander said. “‘You need to show up, like she’s showing up for her students.’”