Archive for the ‘Opportunity’ Category

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New Blog

September 8, 2020

Bill Buzza

Bill at the Richard Rodgers Theater, NYC, set of Hamilton

Many of you know veteran music educator (27 years) Bill Buzza. He’s one of those people who has a warm smile and a soft voice. And, he’s such a thoughtful person that when he enters a conversation you know he’s listening carefully to what you’re saying (and not focusing on how he’ll respond). Bill is the music teacher/band director at Edward Little High School in Auburn.

Just like the rest of us he’s been dealing with the pandemic since March 13. Always one for thinking deeply Bill decided to start a blog that will document his learning and begin a dialogue.  Bill’s calling it Teaching Instrumental Music During COVID-19.

Bill says: As I think about the coming year, I anticipate many new experiences and a journey that will redefine my career of instrumental music education.

This is a great opportunity for you to read about Bill’s experiences and know that you’re not alone. While thinking about returning to school and all the details of it Bill’s been doing research on how to play an instrument with a face mask on. Yes, of course you can read all about it on Bill’s blog. Subscribe in the sidebar of the front page of the blog.

Bill earned his M.S. Ed in Educational Leadership from the University of New England and B.M. in Music Education from the University of Southern Maine. At Edward Little High School, he conducts the concert, marching, pep and jazz bands. He also teaches three levels of guitar, and a beginning band class. Bill was a Finalist for the 2011 Maine Teacher of the Year and was chosen as a Teacher Leader, phase 1, of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI). He also served on the MALI Leadership Team.

Phase 2, MAAI/MALI, Bill front row, 1st on left

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Spoken Word

September 7, 2020

Brandon Leake – America’s Got Talent

I’ve been thinking, listening, reading, having conversations and researching on how to address racial justice in my teaching and learning. I think the world works in magical ways when ‘stuff’ happens that I’m not looking for. And sometimes ‘different stuff’ intersects which, in this case, has led to this blog post.

First I want to say that my favorite podcast at the moment is Cult of Pedagogy started by a middle school Language Arts teacher Jennifer Gonzalez. Jennifer has brought together an experienced group of educators who help make the Cult of Pedagogy. If you’re looking for a podcast that will push on your thinking and curious where you might find ideas that are sometimes raw and grounded in reality combined with thoughtful educational research, then I suggest that you check out Cult of Pedagogy. Many of the episodes are Jennifer’s interviews with teachers, learning experts, parents, and other people who make things happen in education. There are a handful on the social justice topic. If you’d rather read than listen, each new episode comes out also in an email, on Sunday’s. You can learn about all that she has to offer and sign up for her weekly emails on the START HERE PAGE. An example of the podcast resources that Jennifer provides is episode #147 Why White Students Need Multicultural and Social Justice Education  from June 7th an interview with Sheldon Eakins who founded the Leading Equity Center, an online resource for educators.

I was first introduced to poetry by my 7th grade language arts teacher Mrs. Leeds. Each week on Friday we would learn about a poem, write it down in our poetry notebook, and over the next week memorize it and each student in my class would stand and recite it. I can dig into my memory today and recite Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost and In Flanders Fields by John McCrae and probably a few others. Every so often I rediscover my poetry notebook and think about how nervous I was standing up in my front my class. I don’t recall actually learning how to recite poetry. We’ve come a long way in this area; now we have poetry slams, hip hop, jazz poetry, beat poetry, spoken word, and Poetry Out Loud (POL). POL is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies. The Maine Arts Commission administers the recitation program.

I’ve been curious for some time about how ‘poetry’ has, for the most part, been taught in English or language arts class. Why poetry is considered an art form yet in schools we don’t include it when we reference visual and performing arts. In our standards documents it’s not clearly defined as part of the arts. When I try putting poetry in context I explain it like this: in schools poetry is behind the English teaching door and in the real world it is part of the performance arena.

I wanted to better understand this separation so I did a little sleuthing on the internet and, of course, I start with the Greeks. From the Ancient Greek word ποιεω (pronounced poieo) which means ‘I create’. Definition: an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content. In most poetry, it is the connotations and the “baggage” that words carry (the weight of words) that are most important. Poetry.org.

And further on about ‘spoken word’. Spoken word is poetry, and more recently spoken word poetic performance art that is word-based. It is an oral art that focuses on the aesthetics of word play such as intonation and voice inflection. It is a “catchall” term that includes any kind of poetry recited aloud… Unlike written poetry, it has less to do with physical, on the page aesthetics and more to do with phonaesthetics, or the aesthetics of sound. Wikipedia

A focus on words, sounds, presentations and performances using poetry has become more prevalent in our society since about the 1980’s but certainly it is embedded and has been for years in many cultures and their traditions. The connection between poetry as a performance and music is closely aligned.

In fact, in Ancient Greece, the spoken word was the most trusted repository for the best of their thought, and inducements would be offered to men (such as the rhapsodes) who set themselves the task of developing minds capable of retaining and voices capable of communicating the treasures of their culture.

I think poetry’s biggest potential is to light kids up and engage them in learning about themselves and the world. If only Mrs. Leeds had someone guide her in the pedagogy of teaching poetry. A good reason to promote integrated curriculum.

Here’s where the intersection of learning takes place for me. On my phone last week a video from America’s Got Talent popped up. A powerful performance by Spoken Word Artist Brandon Leake began to help me formulate curriculum for racial justice. You can LEARN more about Brandon and the organization he established Called to Move. I suggest using Brandon’s performance with your students.

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Amazing Materials

September 5, 2020

Wicked deals

If you’re an art teacher and can’t make the sale on Sunday but interested in some materials please email me at meartsed@gmail.com.

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Blissful Year

September 2, 2020

Cassie Stephens

Tennessee elementary art teacher Cassie Stephens continues to remind her readers that ‘we got this’. And, the reality is that she continues to seek ideas and design lessons that ‘walk that walk’.

Recently she interviewed family doctor Dr. Deborah Gilboa who is a resilience expert and whose skills are in high demand with the pandemic. Cassie learned some tips on how to manage her own stress during the school year and you can listen to part of the interview at THIS LINK.

In her first two weeks in her classroom Cassie realized what she misses most is being able to tell how her students are really doing since she couldn’t see their faces where they normally provide the continuous reminder of feelings. Cassie’s response? She built a lesson around creating facial expressions so each student has the necessary tools to communicate with Cassie. Find the lessons at THIS LINK. I plan to use the idea with my middle schoolers. If you have ideas you’d like to share please contact me at meartsed@gmail.com.

Please remember in order to provide for our students we need to take care of ourselves.

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Th!s is Our Chance

August 31, 2020

Film Festival

Lindsay, Alex, and myself – Helsinki, November 2020

One of the educators I met while in Helsinki, Finland in 2018 while attending the HundrED Summit was Alex Bell who is the founder and director of Portland Education. One of the first questions I asked Alex was, why would a guy from the UK name his consulting business ‘Portland Education’?  I quickly learned that he had gone to school at USM in Gorham and loved Maine so much that he wanted to honor his time spent in our beautiful state, hence, the name. After the summit we stayed in touch with Alex. The ‘we’ is my colleague, Lindsay Pinchbeck, who I traveled to Helsinki with as Ambassadors.

Alex is a likeable guy who has big ideas about education and believes in the power of the voices of children. He was working with a group of educators in a different part of Malawi which paralleled our project in Malawi. Alex has a few projects going on in other parts of the world.
For one of the projects this year Alex teamed up with volunteers, educators, and organizations in the US create the world’s first free online film festival about how to confront, examine, reimagine and create our education ecosystem. Alex says: “If you’ve got kids, are a kid or care about the bigger picture of education in our society, then you really are going to want to watch.” The film festival will include some amazing and beautiful films all about young people and education.

Th!S is Our Chance film festival runs October 6-27, 2000. Sign up at THIS LINK.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

https://www.facebook.com/OurChanceFilms

https://twitter.com/OurChanceFilms

https://www.instagram.com/ourchancefilms/

Alex promises a family bucket of popcorn if you sign up to attend TH!S IS OUR CHANCE film festival.

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Transmission Times

August 26, 2020

Arts Special for the Transmission Times

Since mid-March Katie Semro has been making the podcast Transmission Times using audio diaries from people around the world about life during the pandemic. She’s planning a special episode with the voices of Performing Artists & Artists, and asking artists of all kinds to do one recording answering 4 questions. It’s a fairly easy process and wonderful feeling to participate! Are you interested in answering the questions?
All you need to do is record your answers to the questions below on a smartphone and email them to Katie at ksemro@gmail.com, or call 847-354-4163 and leave your answers as a voicemail.
  • What impact has this pandemic had on your life?
  • What role is your art playing for you during this time?
  • What influence is the pandemic having on your art?
  • What are you missing the most?
Please send your recordings in by September 15th. Thank you!
Details
When you record please include the date, where you live, and what kind of artist you are, including your name is optionalThe stories will be anonymous on the podcast. 
 
If you are using a smart phone Apps like Voice Memos for iPhone and ARS for android work well. Then email the recording to Katie at ksemro@gmail.com — this can usually be done right from the app. 
Typically people record for 3 – 6 minutes, but the recordings can be as long or short as you want. Don’t worry about mistakes Katie will edit these out, just speak from the heart. 
Katie hopes to collect a lot of responses and will fit as many as she can into the podcast, and the podcast episode may be broadcast on the radio. All of the replies will be saved in the Transmission Times Archive to document this time for future generations. 
Katie is an Independent Audio Producer and appreciates your help with this project! If you have any questions, technical or otherwise, please contact Katie at ksemro@gmail.com.
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Arts from Home

June 25, 2020

Two or three offerings

Please share this information with others! 

DANCE FROM A DISTANCE! 

Join experienced Dance Educator, Elly Lovin, for a mini-camp experience from your home or backyard this summer. Designed for children ages 4-10, but open to the whole family! Each week our dance explorations will center around a different theme, while utilizing elements of movement to give dancers an understanding of how to use space, force, flow, levels, tempos, locomotion, focus, etc. to create their own movements. Themes: 6/30 Colors; 7/7 Night At the Museum; 7/14 Enchanted Garden; 7/21 Sky & Space; 7/28 Unicorns & Dragons; 8/4 Super Powered Dance.

Classes meet on Zoom on Tuesdays, June 30-August 4 Six Weeks 12:30-1PM Eastern (11:30 Central/10:30 Mountain/9:30 Pacific)

Cost (per household): $55 (Venmo to @Elly-Lovin) Sign up with a friend and both parties receive $10 off their registration!)

Register today at www.ellylovin.com/dancing-in-place

ORDER TODAY

Dance @ Home Kits Available! $25 Shipped w/ Camp registration

A selection of my favorite props curated to provide hours of movement fun at home or on the go. Eco-friendly drawstring bag contains mini-mat spot markers, egg shaker, bean bag, dance ribbons, chiffon scarf, pom-poms, stretchy band, and a go-to list of ideas about how to move and use each prop.

If you have any questions please contact Elly Lovin at ellylovin@gmail.com.

TAKE OUT ART

Creative kits offered by Sweet Tree Arts. Online order your favorite summer activities – a variety of kits are available with freedom, choice and creative thinking in mind. As many of you know many camp programs are not running during this summer because of COVID> This is a great opportunity to encourage your students to continue making art by starting with a kit that has everything needed to create. If you have more questions please contact Lindsay Pinchbeck at lspinchbeck@sweettreearts.org

ORDER TODAY


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Tracy’s COVID Teaching Story +

June 24, 2020

Music teacher extraordinaire

Tracy Williamson

My musical career started in 4th grade when I picked up the flute in the beginning band at Metcalf Middle School in Exeter-West Greenwich, RI. My middle school music teacher, Joe Smith, was an inspiration to me and all my classmates. He was quirky, fun, and taught us interesting and different music.  It was truly an amazing middle school music experience. I would definitely say that he inspired me to be the kind of teacher I am today. 

I went to Boston University for my Bachelors degree in Flute Performance and to Boston Conservatory after that for my Masters degree in Flute Performance and Music Education. I then moved up to Maine and finished my certification requirements through USM while playing in the Southern Maine Community Orchestra and continuing to seek out performance opportunities in the area.

My first teaching job was at Marion T. Morse Elementary School in Lisbon Falls teaching K-5 General Music and beginning band. I was hired at Gorham Middle School (GMS) in 2003 when the school was built and I was tasked with developing a brand new middle school music program that had not previously existed. Currently I teach General Music to all 6th & 7th grade students, Chorus for middle school and Steel Band to middle and high school students. My amazing colleague, Rose Skillling, also teaches GMS General Music as well as the Band and Jazz Band program.

I have always been a huge proponent of educational technology and the positive impact it can have on music education particularly in schedules where we see students so infrequently. dHaving Apple devices, a large portion of my curriculum has been based in Garage Band for many years. So when our technology director announced that the entire 6th grade would be moving to Chromebooks a few years ago I had a panic attack thinking I was going to completely lose the amazing possibilities I had opened up for the students. I did some research and I found a couple of apps that would work on the Chromebooks in a similar way and thankfully administration was super supportive and on board with purchasing Soundtrap and WeVideo for every student in the 6th grade.  Unbeknownst to me, this was about to open up a whole new avenue of connections across the world for me and the students.

At the time, Soundtrap, a small company based in Sweden, was still only a few years old and not that well known. But there happened to be a Maine educator who had connected with them and taken a position as an educational consultant. I quickly connected with her, and we teamed up to present Soundtrap at the student MLTI conference the same year I introduced the software to my curriculum. From there, the opportunities for sharing student work, lessons, ideas, connecting with music educators, blog posts, and articles just kept coming. Soundtrap has since been acquired by Spotify and is being widely used by educators and musicians. In January of 2020, through Soundtrap, I connected with the Society for Online Music Education and was invited to direct a Virtual Choir project for the International Music Education Summit to be premiered in mid-March. There were a couple of other Virtual Choir projects out there that I knew about but this was to be a new vision, one that included collaboration amongst participants, making Soundtrap the ideal software to use. We had a handful of teachers signed up for the pilot project. Things were going calmly and smoothly, and then COVID-19 hit us.

With the swift move to on-line learning, every music educator in the world immediately started to seek out virtual ensembles for students to participate in. Our project was quickly populated with hundreds of teachers and students and my director position got a lot more complicated! I asked two Maine colleagues, Rachel Scala-Bolduc and Patrick Volker, to help create vocal practice tracks to support the diverse group of new participants. Another music educator who teaches full-time at a virtual school suggested I try a Zoom rehearsal for participants to help them learn the parts. She hosted a how-to-run-a-virtual-rehearsal webinar that I participated in which ended up being an invaluable resource. The edit of the recordings took many, many hours of organizing, communicating, editing, and figuring out how to make the best quality audio. At one point I was playing the tracks for my husband and he suggested just dipping the volume at a certain point and it made a huge difference! During another moment of frustration, I listened to one of Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choirs to get some inspiration and realized that reverb was a key component to blending the voices that I had yet to try. I am so thankful for this learning opportunity because it gave me a head start for what was to come with the extension of distance learning to the end of the year.

As soon as our school announced the closure in March, I set up Zoom virtual rehearsals with the Chorus classes right away. We continued rehearsing just the same as we had in school. The only difference being, I couldn’t hear them as a group and they couldn’t hear each other. We experimented together, recorded during Zooms, recorded after Zooms, talked about other apps that might accommodate multiple singers, but we just kept on our path of our end-of-year performance goals and figured out everything together along the way. The students continued learning music we had started in school and also learned new music purely through our virtual rehearsals. In the end, they have recorded six pieces of music during our time home due to COVID-19, all of which I am turning into virtual choir videos to serve as our “spring performance”. While this is certainly not an ideal scenario for ensembles to rehearse, it is temporary and it can be successful!  

Unfortunately, because the steel pans are housed at school, and the steel band program is extracurricular, that is now in a bit of a holding pattern until we know the future of getting back into the school this Fall.  I have been researching apps that could provide some type of virtual pan experience to get the students by in the meantime and I have been in communication with our facilities department about potentially holding outdoor  parking lot rehearsals for steel band next year.

General Music Class was another whole challenge when we moved to distance learning! At GMS, students have 7-9 week rotations of Allied Arts. Both the 6th & 7th Grade Music Classes were about halfway through the rotation when we moved to online classes so we had established relationships and structures ahead of time. However, the student rotation change to a new Allied Arts class was scheduled for right after April break. This meant students and teachers connecting with and getting to know each other for the first time in a new content area, virtually.  As an Allied Arts team we worked together to help our current classes connect with the next teacher through Google Classroom. In Music Class, we introduced a Tabata composition project that combined physical activity and Music to help make the Music to PE transition smoother. The last rotation has been a challenge. It has been difficult to connect with kids with the asynchronous model that our district adopted due to many class meetings happening simultaneously. I have learned a lot about what I need to change in order to effectively teach new music concepts to individuals in an online format as opposed to a full group in person where we utilize a lot of repetition and group collaboration to help support learning. Although there are plenty of other variables in a new grouping of students, there was a marked difference in the performance of the General Music students who started before distance learning and those who started purely in the online format. This summer, my colleague and I plan to meet to talk about some of these challenges and make plans for how we can better teach General Music class should we remain in distance learning this Fall.

There have been a lot of worries circulating amongst Music teachers with research studies outlining the risks of the high transmission rate of COVID-19 through singing and instrument playing in conjunction with news of music educators being laid off in districts around the country.  The best thing we can do right now is to show our communities and administrators that, despite temporary limitations, music can and should still continue in our schools regardless of whether we are in the building or learning remotely. Think of solutions that will work and suggest them to colleagues and administrators before something is suggested for you! That also requires creativity, experimenting and out of the box thinking from all music educators. During the last few months, I had an overall participation rate of about 80% in my chorus students with a couple of overwhelmed students asking to drop and a couple of students asking to join because their schedule was suddenly free to do so. I had students completing Music Class work first thing in the morning saying they liked to do “the fun stuff” first. I had parents emailing about how much fun they had helping their child compose music or how amazing it was to hear the final virtual choir recording after hearing their child singing their part alone at home. The more success stories we share, the more everyone will continue to see the value in continued music and arts education whether we are teaching in the comfort of our classrooms or through the virtual world.  

Here are the various end-products I’ve worked on with the GMS Virtual Chorus:

“I See Colors” – May 2020

Audio recorded in Soundtrap, edited in Garage Band, video collected in Flipgrid, edited in iMovie, collage and effects in WeVideo:

 

“Home” – April 2020

Audio recorded in Soundtrap, edited in Garage Band, slideshow videos of staff messages collected in Flipgrid, compiled in iMovie:

 

“Between the Bells” – March 2020

Audio recorded in Soundtrap, edited in Garage Band, stock images from pexels.com, lyrics added in Adobe After Effects:

 

“The Tiger” – May 2020

Audio recorded in Soundtrap, edited in Garage Band, video recorded in a Zoom session, compiled and lyrics & effects added in WeVideo:

 

“The Never Ending Story” – June 2020

Audio recorded in Soundtrap, edited in Garage Band, pictures from the Gorham MIddle School Facebook page, compiled in iMovie:

 

6th Grade General Music:

“Tabata Soundtrack Project”  

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Fellowship

June 22, 2020

Maine connecting  with India

Sweet Tree Arts is thrilled to announce their Fellowship Program in partnership with SLAM Out Loud. Sweet Tree Arts and the Sweetland School are located in Hope, Maine. SLAM Out Loud is an organization in India. The Fellowship is open to artists and educators and begins in August 2020. The Fellowship offers experiences in arts based, learner centered approaches with trailblazing educators and learners in Maine and India. Learn the details by clicking on the flyer (below) to make it larger. The application available at THIS LINK.

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Samantha Smith Challenge

June 11, 2020

St. John’s Catholic School – Brunswick

Students working in the classroom before the pandemic

Like other education initiatives this year the Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) has been turned upside down a bit. The The planned Samantha Smith Day celebration to bring together participating students from throughout Maine was canceled for June 1. However, some schools have continued their projects working with their teachers remotely.

One such school is St. John’s Catholic School in Brunswick. The focus of Tiffany Jones 5th graders project is ‘disabilities’ and they have chosen to write and illustrate a children’s book. They are working with publisher Just Write Books based in Topsham. The book is about animals with disabilities, e.g. a moose who is blind, and how they come together to a place of acceptance and understanding. This project is a great example of using the arts to deliver an important message and of staying connected and not losing momentum in a time that has thrown us all a bit off course.

MISSION

Rob Shetterly

The Samantha Smith Challenge is a dynamic educational program for Maine middle school students designed to build a bridge between the classroom and the world and to create curious, courageous, and engaged citizens. SSC projects teach students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenge and problems they see around them.

The Samantha Smith Challenge is a program of Americans Who Tell the Truth. Artist Robert Shetterly is the founder and Connie Carter works with Rob to bring the program to classrooms across Maine. It is an amazing program!

THE STORY

They have 9 animals from the story in Life On The Farm:
  • Maddie Smith – Jewel the Peacock has Spina Bifida
  • Eliza Davis – Everly the Raccoon has diabetes
  • Maeve Coughlin – Nicole the Fox has Autism
  • Tessa Couture – Puff the Ostrich has Anxiety
  • Wyatt Papernik – Maverick the Moose has Blindness
  • Aurora Blier – Carrie the Cricket has Deafness
  • Ava O’Connell – Fluffernutter the Deer has Depression
  • Abbie Minzner – Buddy the Dog has ADHD
  • Mrs. Jones – Tom the Turkey has Asthma

The animals arrive at a farm where they don’t “fit in”. The story shows how they come together and enjoy playing… learning that it is ‘Best to fit in with the ones who Stand Out’:)

BOOK COVER

STUDENTS RESPONSE

Describe your animal character and something about them that is unique.

  • Jewel, the peacock,  has two different sides.One is competitive and daring and one is kind and loving
  • Nicole, the fox, is unique because she doesn’t care whether or not people know about her “disability”
  • Everley, the raccoon, is special, caring and creative, she cares about other animals and doesn’t let her                                           diabetes define who she is.

What was the most exciting part of this project?

  • The most exciting part of this project was knowing that we were actually publishing a book. Helping the world become a better place. I’ve always wanted to write a book or do something in the creative field. Being able to do this with my class is just an amazing experience I’ll carry throughout my entire life – Eliza Davis
  • Doing it with my friends and teacher. – Maddie  Smith
  • I think the most exciting part of this project was the fact that we could actually get this book published, which is amazing. – Maeve Coughlin
  • Maybe getting money from the book and giving it to charities.- Medal of Honor Recipient / Wyatt Papiernik
What skill or tidbit that you learned that you can take with you throughout your lifetime?
  • Well, something I learned was not really a skill, but I didn’t previously know about spina bifida.  I also learned how cooperative you have to be to write a book. – Maeve Coughlin
  • A skill that i learned that i’m certain i will take with me is the use of different words. Will writing Life on the Farm a lot of our writing sounded very repetitive. There’s so many words out there so we learned how to use them. Often I find writing just needs a variety of words to spice it up a little. – Eliza Davis
  • Being patient. – Maddie Smith
  • Be grateful and be respectful in life. – Medal of Honor Recipient / Wyatt Papiernik
If you were to write and illustrate your own book what might the title be?
  • Deep within. – Maddie Smith
  • If I were to write my own book it would most likely be a novel. I would call it a night on the train. A murder mystery story where each time they leave the carrige there numbers decline. – Eliza Davis
  • I would probably write a nature book, I don’t know exactly what I would name it though. – Maeve Coughlin
  • Learning about  Disabilities For Kids – Medal of Honor Recipient / Wyatt Papiernik 
FROM TIFFANY
“Nancy Randolph is the amazing Publicist. We are getting so so close to publishing!!  We have an ISBN number and may have a first published copy by June 8th!! YAHOOOOOOO!”
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