LES Students Write Children’s Story with LSSC Professors


Amber Karlins, a Lake-Sumter State College English professor, worked with the Golden Eagles Club at Leesburg Elementary School to help the group write two short stories that are now a book.

“Cupcake the Mer-icorn” and “The Unicorn, the Mermaid, and the Wolf” are both short stories written by students in the Golden Eagles Club at Leesburg Elementary with the help of Amber Karlins, an LSSC English professor. The club, funded by a 21st Century Grant the school earned two years ago, offers after-school tutoring.

Recently, Swoop the Lakehawk and Amber visited LES to present the students with books containing the story they wrote.

“Writing is something that has brought me so much joy,” said Karlins. “It was such a gift to get to see that same joy on the students’ faces when they first saw their books.”

During previous visit with the club, Amber taught them the key components of a successful story, which include a protagonist, an antagonist, an objective, contflict, and resolution. After brainstorming ideas with the children, they were divided into groups to work on portions of the stories.

“After seeing their finished stories, I was so impressed and I knew that I had to do something more with their work,” says Amber. “I edited them for spelling and grammar, streamlined the narrative, and reached out to Jackie Pierce for help with illustrating the stories.”

LSSC English professor Jackie Pierce divided the stories into scene and made the students’ ideas a visual reality.

“The students were clear that they wanted a mermaid with purple hair,” Jackie says. “They also included specifics such as bags of Takis hot chips and the rainstorm of chocolate and treats, so parts of the illustration came very easily. The biggest challenge was the character of “a black panther,” but they gave me some creative latitude, and that’s how Marvel’s “Black Panther”, T’Challa, ended up in one of the books.”

The students are extremely proud of the finished product.

“Lake-Sumter State College is proud to embrace its role as an educational catalyst for our communities,” says Dr. Douglas Wymer, LSSC vice president of academic affairs. “I’m also very appreciative of Amber Karlins and Jackie Pierce for sharing their time, talents, and passion with Leesburg Elementary students.”

“Our students were so excited to see the final product,” adds Heather Gelb, principal of Leesburg Elementary School. “This was an important project to help build a love for reading and writing. It is something they will always remember. We are thankful for our partnership with LSSC, which made this possible.”Swoop-the-Lakehawk-and-Principal-Heather-Gelb