Continuing our series of turning the tables and interviewing our readers, we are pleased to introduce this week’s volunteer, HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER, Jodi Gleason!
Let's open with a picture of Jodi, on the right, with one of her favorite authors, whose identity will be revealed later...
Tina: Hi, Jodi...or Mrs. Gleason, as I’m sure your students call you. Could you please tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be a high school teacher?
Jodi: I have been married for 16 years and I have a 14 year old son. I went back to school when my son was in 2nd grade so I have only been teaching for 3 years. I taught 8th grade for the last two years and recently moved up to teaching Freshmen and Sophomores. I became a teacher because I wanted to impact students they way that my teachers had done for me. Growing up in Frankfort, Indiana, I had some of the best teachers ever and I wanted to be just like them. Mrs. Pletch, my senior English teacher, is the reason I teach high school. She made literature come alive and become personal to all of us.
Tina: I’m sure your students appreciate you as much as you did Mrs. Pletch! Now...do you ever look back on your own teen years and think if you knew then what you know now and what would that thing be?
Jodi: The one thing that I wish I knew back then was that I am okay just as I am. I wrestled with my weight and by my senior year, I was a borderline anorexic. I hardly ate anything during the day and I lost a lot of weight but I still thought I looked fat. As I have grown, I have grown to like myself no matter what size I am but it has taken me 35 years to get to this point.
Tina: Ditto, here, about wishing I’d appreciated myself as I was! Moving on, can you tell us a few books that you see teens reading for fun?
Jodi: For fun, I see teens reading the Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight series, Story of A Girl by Sara Zarr, my middle school boys loved Diary of A Wimpy Kid, Sarah Dessen and Laurie Halse Anderson are always popular choices, and Gossip Girls.
Tina: Great books! Based on your current experiences in school, how are some ways that teen authors are getting it right?
Jodi: Teen authors, in my personal opinion, are rocking compared to when I was young. They are writing about issues the kids face. I think of the subjects that my students have encountered and I can usually think of a book for them to read. Teen authors are also creating great series for teens to read like Twilight. I personally love the books as an adult and many of the teachers that I work with also enjoy the books. I also think teen authors are approachable to the teens and that helps. I see a lot of readers post on the author's websites about how this or that book helped them and the authors usually reply. I think that is awesome.
Tina: Yes, I think the Internet has made it so much easier for authors to communicate with their readers, and (with thanks to special people like you), help us to make it real. Now, last question...you’re about to take off on a 14 hour international flight. Sure, they'll be movies and meals, but plenty of time to read, too. You can bring one book--either one you've already read, have been wanting to read, or one that's in the works. What's it going to be and why?
Jodi: I am a book junkie and the thought of just taking one book is so hard. Laurie Halse Anderson has a new one coming out next year and I would like to read it but I would also like to read the sequel to Jennifer Weiner's Good in Bed for myself since not all of the reading I do is for work. It would be between those two and I can't pick, so I would probably take them both.
Tina: Okay, I’ll be nice and change the question so you can bring two. =) And now, for those of us who did not immediate recognize the author in the picture above, will you please reveal her identity!
Jodi: It’s Laurie Halse Anderson.
Tina: She's a favorite of mine, too.
Jodi: Thanks for letting me participate and thanks for the blog because I use it to select books for my classroom.
Tina: Thank you! (And did you hear that, Kelly? Teachers like Jodi are using our blog to select books for their classrooms. Pressure! LOL.)