Danny Caine — Teacher of the Year!

I returned home last Friday to find a wonderful surprise waiting for me. Inside a manila envelope postmarked Smithville, Ohio, was a packet of letters from Danny Caine’s 10th-grade English Class at Smithville High School. Mr. Caine explained that he had recently assigned A.D. to his class, and that it had been a rewarding experience for all involved.

As Mr. Caine wrote, "My students were 11 when the storm hit, and so it felt pretty current to them. Yet they were still too young to understand the weightiness of the situation, and A.D. opened their eyes." Because of budget issues, Mr. Caine chose to use the original, online version of the book (on "SMITH Magazine’s fantastic website"): "… Online reading is a novel yet relevant way to experience text; as nonlinear web reading becomes more common, your online presentation of A.D. (with informational links for many panels) matched the style of literacy that students are comfortable with. In addition, the links lent gravity to the material, and served as important reminders that this was indeed nonfiction."

I’m really overwhelmed by this package. Not only does it thrill me beyond words to know that A.D. on SMITH has continued life, but to think that actual students are taking advantage of all the site’s resources is more than I ever could have imagined. (After all, I put most of those links together!) And the individual letters from the kids are really touching — filled with questions, comments, and appreciation. I still haven’t worked my way through them all, as I’m savoring each one individually. I’m so grateful to Mr. Caine for exposing his students to the unique educational potential of comics in general, and A.D. in particular. And of course for taking the time to let me know about his class’s experience.

I plan on sending the class a personalized hardcover of A.D. And of course letting Mr. Caine know that, should he care to teach Katrina through A.D. again in the future, that there’s a free teacher’s guide online, and that the more economical A.D. paperback is due out in August.

Three cheers for Danny Caine!

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About Josh Neufeld
Brooklyn-based cartoonist specializing in nonfiction comics about topics like Hurricane Katrina, the media, travel, and finance.

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