Jeannette teacher writes children's book starring son
By Kristie Linden
Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
When her son Alec was in third grade, an ordinary interaction gave Sandy Shaw an idea for a children's book.
Shaw, who has been teaching in the Jeannette School District for 21 years, said the day Alec missed the school bus they had a conversation that stuck with her for years. She had to drive Alec to school that day and they arrived just behind the bus.
“I asked him ‘Where does the bus driver go during the day?' And he said, ‘I don't know, Mom, maybe he gets his groceries,'” Shaw said with a laugh.
For some reason, over the years — Alec is now an eighth-grader in the Greensburg Salem School District — the conversation and Alec's funny answer kept coming back to her. She kept thinking of a variety of adventures a bus driver could have while the students are in school and how those adventures could translate to a children's book.
Last summer, through the Xlibris self-publishing company, Shaw finally turned those ideas into a book.
“Back then he was just being a quirky little kid,” said Shaw. But that quirky little exchange has turned Alec into a cartoon character throughout the book's illustrations. “I sent them a picture of Alec and they turned it into a cartoon character.”
In “Do you know where the bus driver will go?” Alec's character imagines all sorts of adventures for his bus driver throughout the day. The adventures include trips to Paris, an African safari, taking a dinosaur for a ride and becoming a super hero.
“As a teacher, there are a lot of talking points,” said Shaw, who now teaches kindergartners at Jeannette McKee Elementary. She said when she reads the book to her students they ask all sorts of questions about the places the driver goes and it gives her a jumping off point to talk about some of those places.
Shaw believes the book could become a series featuring different people and the adventures they might have during their days. Future books will also feature Shaw's older son, Austin, who is a sophomore at Greensburg Salem High School.
During a book fair last fall, Alec was on hand with Shaw and the duo autographed copies of the book together. Shaw's students were very impressed to meet Alec in real life.
The next book will focus on either where teachers go or where the principal eats his lunch. She has dozens of ideas for where the series could go.
Shaw lives in New Alexandria with her husband, Jeff, their two sons and their cat, Sunny.
Shaw, daughter of Albert and Peggy Dent of Jeannette, is a 1986 Jeannette High School graduate. Over her 21-year career, she has taught first grade, second grade and kindergarten. Staying involved in the Jeannette community was important to Shaw when her family moved.
“The kids here are so wonderful and the community is great,” said Shaw.
The book is available at www.barnesandnoble.com, www.amazon.com and they are available autographed and at a discount by emailing Shaw directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send an email to Shaw requesting a copy of the book and instructions on how it should be personalized.
Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 724-838-5154.
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