St. Mary’s Award-Winning Teacher Travels to Promote Literacy Through Her Young Adult Novel

Spanish Teacher and Award-Winning Author Danielle Y.C. McClean

St. Mary’s School Spanish teacher, Danielle Y. C. McClean, a recent recipient of the Canadian Organization for Development through Education (CODE) Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature, traveled with three other Burt Award winners to meet with students, teachers, librarians, and young people in Trinidad and Tobago from November 9-13, 2017, as part of the Read with Me Caribbean Author Tour.
A part of the Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad and Tobago, CODE’s Read With Me campaign is designed to promote the love and habit of reading by providing encouragement and inspiration. Ms. McClean had the opportunity to visit schools, libraries, and homes for at-risk youth across Trinidad and share her own love of reading, discuss its importance, and encourage its practice for pleasure.

The Protectors’ Pledge by Danielle Y.C. McClean

Ms. McClean also appeared as a guest author at the 2017 Miami Book Fair on November 19, where she presented her middle-grade novel, Secrets of Oscuros: The Protectors’ Pledge, at the Rescue Missions and Other Worlds event.
Ms. McClean holds advanced degrees in French, Spanish, and law, and is passionate about language, mythology, and learning about different cultures, which she eagerly shares with our students.
When asked to share details about her inspiration as an author, she commented, “I have always enjoyed reading and was that child who was genuinely happy to receive books for Christmas and on birthdays. Reading opened new worlds, sparked my creativity, and enhanced my written expression. I was comfortable with words – they were my friends – and began to keep a diary at the age of 8, faithfully writing about daily happenings and my feelings. I started to compose poems, short stories, and plays as a pastime, sharing them with my immediate family.
“Despite my love of writing, I did not set out to become an author. I pursued the study of languages and then law, and it was only when it became clear that the United States would be my home that I began to write a book that could link my future children to my dearly held native culture of Trinidad and Tobago.
“I am often asked how long it took to write The Protectors’ Pledge. The process—from conception to publication—took nine years. It was a project that I believed in, was passionate about, and always came back to, no matter how long the manuscript was put aside. It has grown far beyond what I initially envisioned, and I marvel at the blessings that I have received as a result—most recently in the form of the CODE Read with Me author tour in Trinidad, during which I and three other Burt Award-winning authors visited schools, libraries, and homes for girls and boys to promote the love and habit of reading. Connecting reluctant readers with a story, seeing the spark in their eyes, and bringing the words on a page to life have been priceless gifts.”
St. Mary’s School is blessed that Ms. McClean shares her talents in the Spanish classroom and through literature, too!

St. Mary’s Students Selected for the All-East Honor Choir

From Left to Right: Mrs. Carol Villaverde-SMS Music Teacher, Ryan Audet, Luca Filigenzi, Amelia Van Berkel, Sophie Sherlock, Elizabeth Brands, Kayla Kupsch and Ethan Kilevori

Seven St. Mary’s School students in grades 7 and 8 were selected for the East Tennessee Vocal Association’s All-East Junior High/Middle School Honor Choir. Auditions were held on November 17 – 18 at Maryville College and the Clayton Center for the Arts. This year’s All-East Junior High/Middle School Honor Choir was made up of approximately 260 advanced 7th and 8th grade vocal students from 35 schools throughout East Tennessee. Other honor choirs at the event included a Freshman Honor Choir, as well as a Women’s Choir, a Men’s Choir, and a Mixed Choir for auditioned students in 10th – 12th grades.
The students learned and memorized their voice part on five pieces of music prior to attending the honors chorus.  The challenging repertoire allowed them to sing in multiple languages and styles and in a variety of 3 and 4 part voicings.  Literature from this year’s concert included “Babethandaza” by Victor C. Johnson, “I Sing Because I’m Happy” by Kenneth Padden and Rollo Dilworth, “The River Sleeps Beneath the Sky” by Victor C. Johnson, “I Lift My Eyes” by Bob Chilcott, and “Rest Not” by Laura Farnell.
This year’s conductor was Martha Shaw, the Director of Choirs at Reinhardt University in Waleska, GA, where she directs the select Chamber Singers, the 100-voice Concert Choir, and also serves as Professor of Music. She teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in choral literature, choral methods, and conducting. Shaw is the founding director of the world-renowned Spivey Hall Children’s Choir & Tour Choir in Atlanta.  Congratulations to our 7thand 8th grade students for such an accomplishment!