If you have read my articles much over the last year or so you will know I really like our Young Authors Day school assembly program and in particular the gentleman who created and still performs that show. His name is Toma the Mime. I just received another glowing, over the top review of his show and I wanted to share it with you.
If you are the desperate soul who is in charge of scheduling school assemblies for your school you will undoubtedly, at some point, have had someone say to you “Why don’t we get an author to visit and talk to the kids about writing? I really love the books by .... etc. etc. etc.” You know the rest, right? Some parent or Librarian read a book or books by some really wonderful author of children's literature and found out they visit schools and now cannot wait to obtain a signed copy of the book(s).
Now, if you have done this for awhile, and booked a few shows for your school, you will also know what happens. First, you should know that most authors really don’t want to visit schools, or so it would seem from their behavior. Trying to schedule a visit from an author is akin to being dragged through fields of barb wire. You cannot simply pick up the phone and call an author. At least not usually. Rather, most of the time, you must contact their publisher or their agent, which usually involves waiting for them to take the time to call you back. Sometimes they do and sometimes you wait and wait. Then you discover that their schedule is very full (it isn’t always... they just say that because the author does not allow too many days to make these school visits... refer to above about “not wanting to visit schools). Then you discover that they are very expensive (often over $1000 for a 45 minute program). Then you are told that you must also line up other schools in the area who also want this author to visit and get them to commit, in order to make it worthwhile for the author to take the time to come. Essentially, they are asking you to do their job for them! You must often provide housing in a nice hotel and travel fees on top of the hefty visitation fee. I even ran across one that specified we had to provide certain kinds of food and a driver! (Not quite a “green M&Ms moment, but close!). And you are told you must allow time for the author to sell their books to your kids (they call this a “signing” time).
Finally, having gone through all this trouble, time and money, when the day finally arrives, you wait excitedly for the show to start and when it does, you stand watching in horror as this person proceeds to bore your kids to death!
Are you surprised? Well, should you be? Writing is generally a solitary profession practiced in privacy. Skill at wielding a pen does not automatically denote skill in front of a live audience.
Well, this is why I love Young Authors Day. Here is a school assembly that is actually a lot of fun ( I mean A LOT of fun!!), and it actually gets kids writing. Not only that but they are having a ball doing so and are motivated to continue.
Toma, our wonderful Young Authors Day mime was just in Cincinnati, Ohio for a day and I heard back immediately from Sunny Murphy. She is the school assemblies coordinator at Ayer Elementary in Cincinnati, in the Forest Hills District. Here is what she said about Toma:
“He was phenomenal! I cannot sing his praises highly enough! The teachers all thought he was simply outstanding! I could go on and on... the kids were all jazzed and everyone had a great time! We are going to spread the word to all the schools in our district.”
We hear this all the time. Toma is a force of nature, and every school should get to see him work. His school assembly is simply one of the best programs a school can have. Flat out ... one of the very best. Period. End of discussion. Or, as my teenage daughter would write ... Fact!
Toma continues to tour in the Midwest through the end of January. From February through May he will split his time between tours of the East Coast and the Midwest. Very limited dates remain open at this time in Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and New England.
Geoff Beauchamp is the Regional Manager of Mobile Ed Productions where "Education Through Entertainment" has been the guiding principal since 1979. Mobile Ed Productions produces and markets quality educational school assembly programs in the fields of science, history, writing, astronomy, natural science, mathematics, character issues and a variety of other curriculum based areas. In addition, Mr. Beauchamp is a professional actor with 30 years of experience in film, television and on stage. He created and still performs occasionally in Mobile Ed's THE LIVING LINCOLN.