Friday, March 7, 2014

The Kindling of a Flame

Me with my second grade teacher, Georgia Docherty.

Socrates once wrote,  “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”  My second grade teacher, Georgia Docherty, understood this well.  She taught us about authors…every month.  One Saturday, she organized a class field trip so we could meet one: Tomie DePaola.  That was the Christmas season of 1991, but I remember it like it was yesterday.  We went out to eat at McDonalds and I got a mermaid in my Happy Meal from the movie Hook that was in theaters.  We went to Barnes & Noble to see Tomie and then over to the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium on the Campus of St. Thomas to watch Tomie’s play, Merry Christmas Strega Nona.

Sometime during that school year I fell in love with books.  A flame was lit in me and it has not burned out.  

Posing as an author for my second grade career project.

Please enjoy this article written for The Monticello Times by my childhood friend and fellow second grade classmate, Meghan Gutzwiller.  She beautifully writes about the publication of my book, Walking with Tension.

In a Pinewood Elementary School classroom in the early 1990s, second grade teacher Georgia Docherty kindled a spark of passion for books in her student, Jennifer Hill.

The class did author studies on notable children’s authors like Eric Carle, Tomie dePaola and Leo Lionni. They went to meet dePaola and watch a play based on one of his books, read many books by each featured author and wrote their own books, sewing them together so they were bound like ‘real’ books.

These units interested Hill so much that when it came time for the class to do a project on their future careers, she already had her mind made up that she wanted to be an author as well.


  1. Jenny,
    I am so incredibly proud of your book! I have it purchased and in my carry-on for our upcoming vacation! Thank you for your kind words and I am so happy that my early years of teaching were so inspiring to you! I love to teach, always have and always will. I believed in my student's writings and truly believed that they were authors. Our trip to see Tomie dePaola was amazing and is still my all time favorite field trip--how incredibly fun to see the excitement of my students and their families as we met Tomie and then went to see his play! Very fond memories! YOU are an inspiration to me! I am proud that you (and Meghan) have become writers. You too will have an author in your midst each year in your classes that you teach--so keep spreading the love of books! Hugs to you and know that I am with you in spirit on your 30th birthday! Let's get a photo of us together when I get back from Hawaii! Mrs. Georgia Docherty

    1. Thanks Georgia! Can't wait to celebrate with you!! Happy Reading!!