By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
Grant Bowler Elementary students experienced a double treat on Wed., Apr. 26, that highlighted the fun and importance of reading.
First, NBC Channel 3 weatherman-turned-author Kevin Janison made an appearance at the school to put on a hilarious assembly for the kids. He read two of his books for children about a sheriff named Deputy Dorkface.
“These stories started out as bedtime stories for my kids,” Janison said. “I was trying to teach them life lessons, but I also wanted them to laugh. I chose the name ‘Dorkface’ because they were little then and it made them laugh every time.”
Janison said that even though his kids are now 21 and 23, the stories themselves are still enjoyed by kids nationwide. Janison loves to go to elementary schools and read his books to kids. Last year alone he visited 110 schools across seven states.
Janison visited Bowler about 9 years ago and the school was excited to have him back.
“He writes really funny stories with a good moral,” said PTO President Tami Clove. “We wanted to have an author come and then we remembered how great he was when he came 9 years ago. He was excited about coming back and so it all came together.”
Bowler principal Shawna Jessen said, “We are so lucky to live in a community that has resources like this that are so valuable. It was truly an honor to have this high profile person who’s an author come and speak to our kids.”
The only person who enjoys Janison’s visits to schools more than the kids and the teachers may be Janison himself. “Doing this is a passion of mine,” Janison said. “It started as a hobby and kind of grew antlers. It is a pretty cool thing for our family. If people think enough of me to invite me to come, I love to help them out.”
Janison was able to quote his books in their entirety while acting them out and showing the kids the illustrations on a projector. He presented, “Deputy Dorkface and How Sugaropolis Got Dessert Back” to the younger students, and “Deputy Dorkface and How Truthville Got It’s Honesty Back” to the older kids. Janison also has two other books in the series.
In addition to presenting the books to the kids, Janison also shared insider secrets with the kids on how books are made, illustrated, and edited before the final product is ready for distribution.
Next, in going along with the theme of reading, the school also prepared a very special surprise for one of the teachers. Librarian Bryce Hardy was called into the room at the conclusion of Janison’s first assembly where he was surprised with a plaque, a giant jar of beads, and a wagon of books for his outstanding service to the school.
PTO member Erika Whitmore explained how the idea to honor Hardy came about. “As a whole, we thought we needed to spotlight all of our teachers, focus on the positive, and point out the great things in this valley that they do,” Whitmore said. “We picked Bryce to start because he goes above and beyond his responsibilities. The kids love him and have learned to love reading and learning, thanks to him.”
Hardy knew nothing about the presentation and was completely surprised. After being presented with his plaque, the assembled crowd listened as his library assistant, Cairee Johnson, read some beautiful thoughts she’d written on the impact Hardy has had in the lives of students. Bryce was then given a glass jar containing 30,000 colored beads to represent the more than 30,000 AR points the students were able to achieve during reading week this year, thanks to Hardy’s motivation.
Next, Hardy was shown an entire wagon full of donated books that the school had quietly been collecting over the past several weeks to donate to the refugees. A sticker had been placed in each of the books that read, “In honor of Grant M Bowler librarian Bryce Hardy, who taught us to love to READ, READ, READ, READ, READ.”
In addition to the gifts he was given, the school also bought a substitute for Hardy for the rest of the day so that he could take his wife and mother to lunch and attend his daughter’s swim meet.
Hardy began working for CCSD about 24 years ago. He taught 3rd grade in Vegas for 7 years and then worked as a school librarian in Mesquite for another 7 years before moving to Bowler to become the school librarian about 10 years ago.
“I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone’s support,” Hardy said. “I love working here at this school with everyone from the students to the staff.”
School principal Shawna Jessen was present for the surprise award. She said, “Bryce Hardy is one of the best-kept secrets in the whole district. He is gifted at motivating students, whatever their ability, and always makes them feel good about themselves. That’s a perfect combination in a teacher. He’s a treasure.”