For almost two decades, Authors' Teas have been facilitated by Yorkdale Central School early years teacher, Deb Ivanochko. These educational "celebrations" have occurred throughout Mrs. Ivanochko's tenures at different school communities within Good Spirit School Division, including former schools in Rhein and Willowbrook and most recently in Yorkton. At each of these locations, the Authors' Teas have become events that are looked forward to on an annual basis by students, parents and grandparents. Furthermore, principals and senior administrators have often circled the dates of their calendars as a must attend event.
Mrs. Ivanochko is quick to point out as much as these are school community events and celebrations, it is the writing that is to be recognized. "In recent years, our location for the Authors' Teas is always beautifully decorated. We have lots of attendance. However, I still emphasize that writing and reading are the focus. More importantly, I want the growth in student writing to be celebrated."
"I first began the Authors' Teas at the insistence of my sister, who was working on her Ph. D. in the United States. She visited a school and saw a Tea. She shared that I have to do this," shared Mrs. Ivanochko. "Over the years, it has changed. Technology too. There used to be overheads and different preparation, but today's technology has only made it more enjoyable."
In recent years, other schools have been picking up on the organization of Authors' Teas. Mrs. Ivanochko is pleased with this trend. "I tell some that it is a lot of work and preparation, but once the process is done, they will be sold on it."
Yorkdale Central School Principal, Shaune Beatty, would be the first to share that if he ever went to another school, as its leader, he would make certain that the concept of the Authors' Teas would be repeated in a new setting. "There is such a turnout of stakeholders at these events. The students and their writing are at the centre of all the attention. I can't tell you how many compliments and handshakes are exchanged at the end of these evenings. In terms of work load, the juice is most definitely worth the squeeze."
The memories of student participation go well beyond the early years of school too. When Mrs. Ivanochko's final Authors' Tea was shared this June, several students from the past shared their appreciation. Some still holding the book they wrote in Grade 1.
Thank you Mr. Ivanochko for your years of commitment and dedication to building readers and writers!