- Linden-McKinley STEM Academy
Teacher and Student Pair Get Published Using Virtual Platforms
November 3, 2020 -- Eleventh-grade English teacher Kathy McQuate and two of her students have taken virtual learning to a whole new level. Despite the pandemic, the trio has published a book on Amazon about the geese on the roof of Linden-McKinley STEM Academy (LMSA). Last spring, a mother goose and her mate decided this school roof was a great place to grow their family.
This story began last spring. That’s when McQuate begged her principal to go into school and up to the roof to water the maroon and black tulips -- school colors -- planted earlier in the year for the seniors on their graduation.
“I walked out onto the roof and couldn’t believe what I saw,” said Principal Duane Bland. “A mother goose and three goslings were walking towards the greenhouse.”
Priority one for Mr. Bland was finding a new home for the geese. Ms. McQuate saw the geese a little differently, and that’s where the idea for the book Green Roof Geese came from.
Every spring, McQuate’s 11th-grade class is given one assignment: to write and illustrate a book. The students can work individually, with family, or with her on the project. McQuate told the two students she was working with (Marylyen Jimenez and Alaysha Brunner) about the geese.
“Together, we came up with the idea to make our book about the geese and what happens to them on the roof,” said Alaysha Brunner. “Turning the story into a published book was the last thing I was thinking about in the beginning.”
Early into their discussions, Marylyen Jimenez decided the narrator of this tale should be the tulips since no one was at school due to the pandemic. “The tulips were the only ones up there,” said the Linden-McKinley STEM Academy senior. "They just wanted peace and quiet, not pesky geese who might eat them.”
Separate from the book, McQuate and some of the school staff were genuinely concerned about the geese since there was no water on the roof. “One teacher brought in a bag of grass clippings for the geese to eat,” said McQuate. “Someone else brought in a baby pool that the custodians filled with water, and I even went to a farm store to buy them food.”
While Mother Goose and Gander Goose tended to their roof-top goslings, the teacher and her two students met virtually, during the entire month of May, to continue working on the storyline, characters, and illustrations. “This is the first time in 25 years of teaching that I had two students who showed up every day for a Zoom class that many times lasted two hours,” said the English teacher.
“I looked forward to those Zoom chats,” said Alaysha Brunner. “Being away from school and spending so much time at home, the Zoom class provided me with some company and social contact.”
By the middle of June, the trio completed the book. McQuate’s daughter, who graduated from college, finished all the illustrations by Fall. That’s when the teacher shared with her students that she wanted to publish Green Roof Geese.
“While anyone can self-publish on Amazon, I used this platform because there were no upfront costs,” said McQuate. Her students were thrilled. “No one in my family has ever done anything like this,” said Marylyen Jimenez. “It was nice to focus on something positive when there was so much negative in our world."
Alaysha was amazed they took this assignment to the next level. “I posted on Instagram that my name is now on a book so please go buy it,” she laughed.
The geese and their goslings were safely removed from the roof after consulting with the Ohio Division of Natural Resources. Once outside on ground level, the new family waddled across the practice football field into some nearby woods.
Through their geese research, the teacher and students discovered that the pregnant Mother Goose and Gander Goose sometimes return in the spring to the same spot where their previous set of goslings were born. For Marylyen Jimenez, next up is translating Green Roof Geese into Spanish. Both students did get an A-plus on this English assignment.
The proceeds from sales of the book will go to the two students, and Kathy McQuate plans to donate her share of the book's sales to local schools and writing programs.