There is a national treasure in the Oakland school system named Ms. Shelly Moody.

I’m an author for children, based in Los Angeles. (And a Colby grad, class of 1977). Moody, who is a former Maine teacher of the year and the instructional coach at Atwood Primary and Williams Elementary, discovered my new children’s book, “The Tree in the Courtyard,” which retells Anne Frank’s story from the point of view of the horse chestnut tree that grew in the courtyard behind the secret annex. She wrote about it on her educational blog. After some online correspondence, we arranged a Skype visit, where I “met” with five fourth-grade classes who had been studying my book.

I’m no writing rookie. I’ve done a lot of school visits in my time. Hundreds, maybe. Never have I encountered a collection of students so articulate, prepared, polite, focused, and just plain delightful. Our hour flew by. I’m still in a happy daze from it. Moody and all the fourth-grade teachers deserve so much credit. Those children are lucky. So am I.

Jeff Gottesfeld

Los Angeles, California

Colby, class of 1977

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