|Fourth grade class of Sue Kotchman, then Sue Cusmano, during 1979-1980.|
I am in the second row from the back, fourth from the left.
I remember being in her class and always being motivated to do the best I could. I did well in school, and she would challenge me to do even better. At that point in my life, I actually wanted to be a teacher because I loved her class and going to school. She made learning fun.
I am probably just one of many that she has made a difference in their lives. Now that I am a mom, I understand how important teachers are in our children’s lives.
Kotchman was in the
system for more
than 32 years. I think my class was one of her first classes she taught. She was a teacher, curriculum specialist and
principal focusing on elementary education. Pinellas County
About 4 years ago, she suffered a brain aneurysm and almost didn’t make it. She will tell you she’s a walking miracle. After her health issues, she decided it was time to retire from
their principal. After retiring, she
started writing children’s books. She
published one last year and just recently published another in a series of
books. The books are called “With Love,
from Grandma” and “With Love, from Grandpa.” Kotchman told me she always wanted
to write books, a dream she has had since teaching. She writes for fun, and her books help kids
learn lessons about life. Her “With Love”
series books deal with the importance of relationships, spending time together
and realistic situations. Her first book deals with the relationship of a
little girl and her grandma and how she copes when her grandma dies. How many kids have someone or something die
in their life? We all do. It’s the cycle of life. Kotchman uses her two kid’s names as the main
characters in her books. Her daughter Christal
is in the “With Love, from Grandma.” And her son Casey is in the “With Love,
from Grandma”. After she wrote her first
book with her daughter in it, when she would read in to students at schools,
they would always say you need a book about your son. You see her son was the first baseman of the
Tampa Bay Rays, and kids knew he was her son. Kotchman says the books are
realist fiction. They have some things
in them that are true, but the story may not be totally true. Her latest book has a lot of Madeira Beach
Elementary School beach scenery,
which helps students relate to the story. Florida
Kotchman goes a step further than just writing the book, she visits classrooms around
and reads her books
to students. She says her books are
designed to help students with their writing skills. She says very often kids
don’t know what to write about and they need to draw from an experience. Her book “With Love, From Grandpa” does this.
The main character has a writing assignment from school and doesn’t know what
to write about until he finishes his day of fishing with his grandpa. Pinellas
Kotchman’s motto is everyone has a story. She wants to help students develop their writing skills by finding stories in their lives to write about. I guess she’s been instilling this for years. Now her story is my story for you today. I’m so thankful for teachers like Sue Kotchman, who make a positive difference in young children’s lives and help promote literacy.
***If you would like to hear Kotchman present her book, she will be at the Gulf Beaches Library on Tuesday, April 17th from 6:30 to 8:00 pm and at the Seminole Community Library on Monday, April 23rd from 6:30-7:30pm. You can also contact her if you would like her to read to your students at your school. Just email her at SueKotch11@gmail.com