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In a Stressed-Out World, Teacher Shannon Olsen Wants Children to Feel Safe in Classrooms

Stress reaches us from all directions. Even kids aren’t immune to everything that goes on in the world. Take for instance the pandemic and changes in the schooling process. One aspect of being a teacher to elementary school children is helping them understand that school should feel safe and inclusive to everybody. As much time as they spend in school with their peers and teachers, it’s as if they create another “family” through the year.

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Shannon Olsen
Shannon Olsen

When children come to school, they shouldn’t have to worry about everything happening in the world. And if there’s stress at home, then the school should offer them a place where they don’t have to worry about those kinds of things. The environment that teachers create for children can go a long way in helping kids connect in classrooms.

As a teacher herself, Shannon Olsen wanted to create a book that speaks to the “family” concept of spending time together and treating each other well. Amazon chose it as a featured children’s story and displayed it on an eighty-foot billboard at Penn’s Station in New York City, which was quite an honor. She feels strongly about the message of “Our Class is a Family” and hopes educators find it useful in building their class communities. 

Teachers Helping Teachers

Shannon ventured into a side business where she also creates educational resources and downloads that other teachers can use in their classroom via a site called Teachers Pay Teachers. Her entrepreneurial spirit evolved between writing and marketing her book, along with her educational materials. She loves teaching and has spent 15 years in the classroom. She’s enjoyed the added creativity and challenge and finds it rewarding.

Shannon has plans to write more books, and “Our Class is a Family” is currently being translated into other languages. The idea that her book may help both children and educators feel more connected and relate to the story helps fulfill her purpose in making a difference in their lives.

She’s learned that while you can write a book, there’s a lot that goes into the marketing journey.  In addition to distributing her book on Amazon, she also sells bulk discounts to schools and principals via her website as the requests continue to come in. Thankfully, with the support of her family, they’ve been able to keep up with the demand.

As we adjust to our new normal, and when schools slowly get back to in-person classes, she looks forward to being able to read the book to her students in person. Along with many other educators, she has read it to them virtually through an online platform. She says that one of the highlights of teaching was when her father came in and read to her classroom. He shared with her students that she was an avid reader, even as a child. She even carried a book with her everywhere she went. 

Her love of reading naturally turned into a love of writing as well. When the opportunity presented itself, she noted that the specific idea hadn’t been shared as a picture book, and knew it was an opportunity to stretch her wings.

She feels humbled by how well it’s been accepted by her peers. The feedback has been positive from both educators and parents. She can’t wait to dive into publishing another book, as soon the time presents itself!

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