Students to chat with "Tuesdays With Morrie" author
Next month, a group of Sayre High School students will have the chance to talk with the author of a book that touched them earlier in the year.
After reading Mitch Albom's best-selling 1997 book "Tuesdays With Morrie," students in Lee Shoemaker's ninth-grade English classes reached out to the author through Facebook and other social media channels.
And their persistence paid off - while Albom's schedule prevents him from making the trip to Sayre, he will participate in a video chat with the students through Skype in early May.
"The teacher in me is so inspired by their passion and enthusiasm," Shoemaker said of her students. "They took liking something that we were working on in class to a level of commitment and excitement that I haven't ever seen."
Shoemaker assigns the book, which chronicles Albom's visits with his former professor who is dying of ALS, each year.
"It's always a book that they enjoy, no matter what time of year we read it," she said.
Students first began to discuss the prospect of sharing their projects with Albom when it came time to do a final project - creating a product incorporating one of Morrie's life lessons from the book.
Students created mugs, shirts and other products and created a Facebook page called "Get Mitch Albom to Come to Sayre" to share pictures of their work, Shoemaker said.
"Our ninth grade English class was very touched by this book, and our teacher has inspired us to get Mitch to come and speak to our class about the book," the Facebook page reads. "We have accomplished so much in the short 6 months we have had together, and we would like to make this our biggest achievement yet."
Students also anonymously shared life lessons on the page that the class wrote while reading the book and took class pictures where students held signs and wore T-shirts asking Albom to come to Sayre.
Within an evening, each of the images on the page received over 10,000 views, Shoemaker said.
Later, the students made another post highlighting a canned food drive they organized, inspired by Morrie's message to give back to the community.
Students also shared the projects on Albom's Facebook page. Albom personally commented on some of the posts, calling the students' efforts "impressive."
The class emailed Albom, made phone calls and created a special hash tag on Twitter to further grab his attention, Shoemaker said. Finally, Albom's representatives reached out to the students.
"Although he wished he could come to Sayre, Skyping with us was the best compromise that he was able to commit to," Shoemaker said.
Students are so excited about the upcoming chat that they've had trouble focusing on the class' next project, Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," Shoemaker said.
"I hope that Mitch Albom and our Skype conversation is everything that they hope for and have imagined," she said.
Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.