Learning Partners

Following is a guest post I provided to the Lollipops and Books Blog  recently, that I wanted to share with my readers here.

Teacher's Tack for Believing In Horses

The product of an author and an educator working together as a team

One of the unexpected joys in writing Believing In Horses came from my brother, Eddy Ormond. A career educator, Eddy developed a keen interest in my book from the start and stayed involved during the writing process. Even as a non-horse person, he accompanied me on my research visits to barns, horse rescues, and even a live horse auction. My brother provided valuable input to me, as a writer, from spending years with fourth and fifth graders, knowing what they would like and maybe not like. It was a wonderful journey for both of us that I thought would end at the book’s publication. But I was wrong.I have read many Middle Grade and Young Adult novels, and frequently wondered, “Do these kids ever go to school?” Besides that fact, I felt compelled to have a teacher in my novel passionate about his profession and making a difference in the lives of children. Fortunately, I had a model teacher, Eddy, who is reflected as the Mr. Edwards teacher character in Believing In Horses. I visited Eddy’s school for years and watched the lights go on in kids’ eyes when he taught them. I loved the respect he showed each student and the way he knew how to mix learning and fun. I was very proud of him when the principal, other teachers, parents, and kids, told me how wonderful he was and how he had changed lives. Teachers in every form of school impact young minds so much, and I’ve been amazed at how many adults have told me that Mr. Edwards reminded them of a favorite teacher in their past. But “memorializing” my brother as the teacher in my book still didn’t conclude our sibling writing journey.

When reading the Believing In Horses‘s final manuscript, Eddy wrote:

“The wide margins begged the retired teacher side of me to resurface and fill them will annotations. By the second sentence I had underlined the word ‘cope’ and noted a Social Studies activity to coordinate with the second paragraph!”

Eddy Ormond and Teacher's Tack for Believing In Horses

Eddy Ormond with the teacher’s guide hot off the press to present at the State of Maryland International Reading Association Council Conference

And so began the development of the companion Discussion Guides and Activities for Believing In Horses, originally only available on the book’s website. Teachers and homeschoolers raved about the exercises and asked when they would be available in print. We listened, and published Teacher’s Tack for Believing In Horses, a comprehensive 76-page teacher’s guide to help make any teacher’s job easier (and more fun!) in working with students and the book. Additionally, my brother visited schools with me, presenting a lively Talk Show format about the book, reading, and writing, engaging the kids every time. Mr. Edwards (aka Eddy) has brought his fun learning style to the web, in print, and in person…and is still changing lives!We presented at the State of Maryland International Reading Association Council Conference in March about the value of an educator and an author working together. For instance, Eddy created a funny improvisational activity based on a true situation he faced during one of our research trips when a retired jockey handed him a giant Thoroughbred horse and told him to put it in its stall (remember the non-horse part I mentioned?). I shared with the audience that I didn’t even know what the 6 + 1 writing traits were, but my brother could point out examples throughout the book. And mostly, we discussed how working together and figuring out ways to get the important lessons across in a fun and interactive manner provided a more meaningful and memorable experience. I’ve been very fortunate to have a talented, caring teacher as my partner on this creative ride, and “I believe” it has made a big difference.

 Has a teacher out there made a difference in your life?  Would love to hear your story.


  1. Thanks, Tina. Hope you and your children enjoy an activity or two. Here is the link to the discussion guides and activities online: http://believinginhorses.com/discussion_guidesactivities, which are free. You can also purchase a print copy via the Veda Readers tab on my website. We started with just the online version but went to a print version because teacher’s requested it. You know busy teachers can be! Happy Thursday.

  2. What a great partnership! I wish more books had solid activity guides to go with them! I can’t wait to check this one out! Thanks for linking up with Booknificent Thursday! Looking forward to seeing what you’ve got this week!

  3. Thank you, Nicole. “Teacher’s Tack” has a homeschool curriculum plan, and we’ve received some great feedback from homeschooling moms. Thank you for stopping by, and I’m off to check out your blog now. 🙂

  4. This is so very interesting! As a homeschooling mom with a daughter who loves horses, I am definitely intrigued by your book and teacher’s guide. I will definitely check it out further!

    Nicole @ Best Kids’ Reads