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It all started in Portable 21...
The founder of Right Track Academic Support Services, LLC, and WeGottaRead.com, Michelle Stimpson, started writing short stories for reluctant, struggling readers while teaching at Sunset High School in Dallas, TX, in Portable 21. Her students were...well... in a state of rebellion. They wouldn’t complete the work she'd left with the substitute. (Has anyone else ever had that problem?)
One fine day, Michelle came up with a different kind of lesson plan in anticipation of her next absence. She wrote a high-interest story about a teenage mother who ran away from home and left the baby with her parents. Michelle infused her students’ names, familiar settings, and, of course, plenty of drama. In accordance with student data and best practices for high school reading comprehension, the text was at most of the students’ independent reading levels, and was followed by open-ended comprehension questions.
When Michelle got back to school the day following her absence, the substitute left a note saying that the students were “great.” Michelle admits that her first thought was "they all skipped." Then she felt the folder that contained the students’ work - it was pretty thick. Michelle's second thought was they must have all copied from each other. But when she began to read their answers, she realized they had all done their own work. No two answers were the same. She immediately repented for her ill thoughts and decided that it must have been a one-time quirky thing.
Imagine her surprise (and dismay) when her students asked, “Miss, when are you gonna be absent again so we can read another one of your stories?” As it turned out, Michelle missed several days that year and wrote many stories for her students. She had to make extra copies, though, because the stories kept growing feet and walking out of the room with the kids!
Before long, teachers and students all over the campus were asking about these short stories. Neighboring teachers borrowed copies for their kids to read. The on-campus suspension teacher began assigning the stories to kids who wouldn't read anything else. Michelle knew, then, that she was onto something.
Her students' encouragement spurred a successful writing career for Michelle. She is now a national bestselling faith-based novelist, but her love of writing and passion for reaching at-risk youth has not waned. Since founding Right Track Academic Support Services, LLC in 2000, Michelle has partnered with teachers, literacy coaches, administrators and mentors in an effort to help every student experience the joy of reading -- and maybe learn valuable life-lessons along the way.
Right Track Academic Support Services, LLC
P.O. Box 1592
Cedar Hill, TX 75106