CRACKER COW

A Narrative of Florida History By Barbara Cairns

 

School Visits

For school visits ( times and fees), you may contact me at [email protected].

           

 

Available for following presentations

1.    History Lessons for 4th-5th graders (using CRACKER COW: A Narrative of Florida History)

2.    Writing Lessons for grades 2-5

3.     Geography Lessons for grades 2-5

4.     Science/Nature Lessons for younger children (using book Owen & Mzee with papier mache baby hippo and giant Aldabra tortoise)

5.     Science/Nature Lessons on following animals: Whooping Crane, Hippopotamus, Black Bears, Otters, Cougars, Bobcats, Manatees, and Foxes.

                Barbara's BIO

As a child growing up in Connecticut, I loved animals and enjoyed writing about them. My dream of traveling to Africa on Safari led to my writing many stories about African animals.

I started working with children early, as a Sunday School Teacher. By the time I finished high school, I was responsible for supervising several Sunday school classes. Because of my work in that small New England church, the pastor encouraged me to enter the teaching field, something I've  been grateful for ever since.

After attending Teacher's College in Connecticut, my wanderlust took me to Seattle, Washington where I taught 30 first graders how to read, write and do arithmetic, how to sculpt animals from papier mache, and how to perform the Nutcracker Suite for the folks at the central office. While in Seattle, I was awarded a full scholarship to study for my Masters Degree in Deaf Education at Columbia University and Lexington School for the Deaf in New York. After obtaining my degree, I returned to Seattle where I taught deaf children for several years.

When the travel bug bit me again, I joined the Department of Defense Dependents Schools and landed an assignment at Goose Bay, Labrador. While there, I was sent to Washington, D.C. to develop guidelines for seven principals in the Atlantic Region of DODDS to set up their first Special Education classrooms. As a result of my research, I wrote and presented three Special Education documents, which became the basis for several new classrooms for Children at Risk.

My next assignment took me to Bamberg, Germany. This place remains special to me because this is where I met my future husband, a Brit named Ian. We left Germany to marry in the Canal Zone, Republic of Panama, where we lived and worked  for many years.

While teaching in a Canal Zone school with no library, I wrote a 30-page proposal to start a new school library and then followed it to fruition. Because there were no funds for a librarian the first year, we used parent volunteers! When I couldn't find the materials I wanted for a summer school project, I developed my own. The result was the publication of teacher manuals, student workbooks, and playing cards. I also wrote stories based on the Inuits in Labrador, which were published in 4th grade readers. My other writing ventures included interviewing "yachties" who transited the Panama Canal in their beautiful yachts, writing about their worldly adventures for a California-based yachting magazine, and also writing monthly columns titled "Bits 'n' Pieces" for a local newspaper.

As time passed, I became a Master Teacher, teaching not only children in grades K-6, but also classes for teachers. I traveled back to Germany where I set up a new Special Education classroom in Frankfurt, and later was sent to Munich with Host Nation teachers to write a new manual. I was selected as one of 15 teachers worldwide to attend a Smithsonian Writing Course where we used all the museums, and the zoo to write our assignments. I came back to the Canal Zone and turned my classroom into a museum,where my Special Education students "WOWed" the rest of the school with 45-minute tours.

Eventually, as much as I enjoyed teaching, I was encouraged by "The Powers That Be" to become an administrator, which I also enjoyed for many years before retiring in 1999. Getting into classrooms to teach writing remains a highlight of my years as principal. Throughout the years, outside of school, I continued to write, getting stories, articles, and poems published in magazines, newspapers, anthologies, online sites and in 4th grade readers.

Since I retired in Florida, I became fascinated by the state's wonderful history. The result is a book titled CRACKER COW: A Narrative of Florida History. I've also been involved with the Citrus County School Readiness Coalition, the World's Biggest Baby Shower, and Volunteering in local schools, teaching writing and geography.

My current writing projects include children's stories, articles, online monthly columns titled "If You're Not Growing, You're Dying", and interviewing and writing Volunteer Spotlights for a local newspaper. I recently won First Place in a Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Writing Workshop Essay Contest.

When not traveling, I volunteer weekly at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and also present the park's monthly Reading with Rocky programs.

Additional Notes:

Although none of my early African animal stories were ever published, I did go on my childhood dream African Safari in 1969. I also soloed a Cessna 140 in Labrador, rode in a glider in Germany, and enjoyed a hot air balloon ride in Del Mar, California. My favorite saying is "Our life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

There are lots of adventures ahead... for me to experience, for me to write about, for me to share with children in classrooms.

I look forward to sharing them with you. You may contact me for school visits at [email protected] .