My favourite part of my job was coming up and I was counting down the days on my calendar. On Thursday, March 11th, I had a book reading with the JDD Adolescent Centre. I can honestly say, it was a darn good time. As usual.
How I love visiting schools and reading my book, Me and My So-Called Friends to the students. It’s the best part of being an author. It is here where the students get to meet me – the person who wrote the book they were reading and ask any questions they like. Usually, a book reading with the JDD Adolescent Centre (and any other school) consists of reading a few excerpts, a discussion about the publishing industry, and a short presentation on what it’s like to be a writer.
But of course, it’s the students who make the reading so unique. It’s all about their questions, comments, and constructive criticism that shape the time we have together. Especially when the giggles begin to surface and some heated discussion begins to emerge. That’s when the real magic happens.
With Braves the Waves being utilized in six schools across the GTA, my schedule used to consist of visiting each school in person, but due to COVID, now my author visits are virtual.
Before I share some of the highlights from our reading, there are a few things I need to explain before I begin. The Jerome D. Diamond Adolescent Centre, located in the Younge and Eglinton area, is not just any other school. Partnered with the TDSB and @jfandcs (Jewish Family and Child Services), this educational institution takes care of the child that is struggling, like no other.
A huge thank you to Robyn Cohen, Clinical Manager of the JDD Adolescent Centre, for taking the time to answer my questions and share the story of this remarkable school.
What does JDD stand for?
JDD stands for Jerome D. Diamond. Jerome D. Diamond was a past Executive Director of @jfandcs who had a special fondness and appreciation for adolescents. The Center used to be called Center Sheilanu but then was changed to be named in his honour. He just passed away in 2015 and lived to 100 years old!
What is the JDD Adolescent Centre?
An adolescent day treatment program for kids ages 11-17. It’s a school that works with kids and their families who are struggling with their mental health and academics. The classes are very small. Each one is staffed by a special education teacher and a youth and child worker, along with a family therapist who works with the student and their family. When required, a consulting psychiatrist and psychologist are available.
The school follows the TDSB curriculum that offers many of the same courses that are available at most other schools.
What kind of students do you accept?
JDD accepts students who are having trouble managing in a mainstream school. From either or any combination of emotional, behavioral, and academic issues. Before families enroll, there is a thorough assessment to ensure that our school would be a good fit.
Where do your students go after they graduate?
Students attend JDD for 1-2 years to get the professional help that they need. Of course, there comes that day when the child is ready to move on to a mainstream school. When this happens, they are supported by a JDD’s Transition worker. Students do not ‘graduate’ from JDD.
And now on to our scheduled program…
1:00 PM was my start time and when I saw everyone on the screen, I greeted everyone with my usual chipper self 😉 and then got started. I explained the process of writing a book, the publishing industry, and how important it is for SOMEONE ELSE to proofread your work. Oh my, I sure do take proofreading very seriously. From personal experience, I quickly learned that when you are too close to your work, you won’t see the typos. Sigh.
After reading three different excerpts, the questions started to roll in and it went something like this. I tell you, A book reading with the JDD Adolescent Centre puts the biggest smile on my face.
Out of the mouth of babes
Student: “Do you think wearing an Indian Sari is offensive?” Sharon: “When I wrote the story 15 years ago, People were more likely to be insensitive regarding dressing up in someone’s culture. I was a part of that mindset and that was wrong. I apologize if I offended anybody. “
Student: “Why did you write about losing weight?” Sharon: “I wanted to show how someone reached a goal and began an exercise program from ground zero. All in a healthy manner, of course.”
Student: “How did you publish this book?” Sharon: “I didn’t actually physically publish it myself. I worked with a self-publishing company. Here’s how the process went: First I sent them my manuscript and cover design. Next, they designed and laid out the text on the pages. Then they supplied me with an ISBN Number. The last step was to have it manufactured into a book, by a printing company.”
Student: “Is there a sequel to Me and My So-Called Friends?” Sharon: “Not yet, but there’s a new book that’s coming out in August called The Get Up Book! It’s a collection of real-life stories with lessons that I wish I knew about when I was your age. There are also exercises to go with the stories too!
Student: “What kind of bed do you sleep on?” Editor’s note: In my world, all questions, (within reason) are welcome. Sharon: “A Douglas. I feel like I’m sleeping on air.”
There’s nothing I love more than connecting with my readers. Book readings are by far the best part of my job. I just wish I could do them more often, especially with students like these from the JDD Adolescent Centre.
I’m so grateful to be able to have the opportunity to write what I’m passionate about and what I think will serve others. If you would like me to write for a product or service you represent or for your own company, please be in touch.