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published: Friday, March 22, 2013
Local teacher's book teaches kids about courage, inspiration
By CAROL KLINE
SEBRING - With a sincere passion for art along with a degree in teaching, Rhoda Ross shares that passion with children as an art teacher in a classroom setting. Moreover, she has found time, to utilize her skills in both art and in teaching to become a successful author of a book for children titled, "A Wildflower for All Seasons."
Ross enjoys teaching both art as well as language arts at Sebring Middle School. She holds a teaching degree for kindergarten through sixth grade from Florida Atlantic University, and has a master's in teaching from Southeastern University at Lakeland.
Four of Ross's master's classes focused on visual arts, drama, theater, and dance being used in classroom settings, thus the interactive nature of her book. Whether in a classroom setting or at home, the book facilitates times of dancing, movement, sharing feelings, singing "to the wind" and other types of child-like "performing" to act out their emotions and their needs.
Wild Flower, the main character in the book, "A Wildflower for All Seasons," decides she does not want to wither away and die along with all the other wildflowers at the end of summer. Instead, she determinedly draws courage from an inner strength to press on; to ward off cold and storms during the onslaught of fall and winter. The character wins the battle and survives through an inner peace, giving inspiration to children as they read or hear the book read, and then follow the instructions on each page to interact.
Reviews of the book have been extremely supportive, and Ross is now pushing forward with classroom projects and lessons based on the book itself. As an interactive learning tool, Ross explained her desire that the book could enable children to "live without shadows, and have no fears of past or future."
With children growing up almost too quickly these days, the goal of Ross's book is to have children be given more time to simply "stay in the moment" and "feel connected to God." Undoubtedly, the content and story line regarding the determination of Wild Flower is viewed as refreshing and hopeful.
"It actually took four years to go through the long process of writing and illustrating the book," Ross explained. "Doug Heatherly of Lighthouse24.com has been a tremendous source of information as the book layout and design authority, and all around support person as I wrote and re-wrote.
"In addition, dear friends from Atlanta, Jules and Josh, have also encouraged me and are helping to market the book," Ross said.
Of all the acknowledgements and reviews written, Ross was thrilled to share her book with the well-known English author, speaker, teacher, retreat leader, and political advisor Edwina Gately. (You may visit the British-born author on her Website at www.edwindagately.com)
Gately wrote, "An inspiring and heart-felt children's book which will speak to the spirit of joy and hope in children everywhere. 'Wildflower' teaches deep lessons about life and how to overcome adversity whilst at the same time inviting the readers to dance and to celebrate the whole of life."
While teaching programs based on her book is an ultimate goal, Ross also intends to include programs where parents can become involved in teaching a child through the "parent page."
Ross said, "I will offer one- to two-minute videos about before, during, and after the reading strategies."
Ross is directing her book toward teachers everywhere. She hopes her Website will be a connection between the classroom, parents, and children.
"There are free lesson plans for kindergarten, first and second grades found on the website," Ross explains further.
In addition, there will be spiritual lessons on the website that contain activities and videos to help children stay focused on God and find joy in each moment. Videos are in production now, and Ross hopes the message found in her book and the teaching tools will help children develop courage and strength within themselves, as well as feelings of self-worth.
Ross is a former part-time youth minister. She is available to speak at churches, church groups, civic organizations, and any venue having a desire to hear more about the book and her message.
"I believe God has truly had a hand in this," Ross said, explaining how her connection to art and the desire to impact the lives of children through the many phases of the arts served as an inspiration to write.
"He has put many people in my life and opened doors that I believe helped to make it possible. He has been my strength," Ross continued, "and it is my joy to help children learn to stay focused in life and find joy in the moment."
"We are here to be used as tools to help foster relationships," Ross explains, "to help others remain focused and find the fruits of the Spirit. Through God, we can do anything."
Ross is married and lives with her husband, Mark, in Lake Placid, along with their dog, Mojo. They attend Sebring Unity Church.
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