Excessive Faculty Soccer: St. Rita’s Kyle James Pen E book in Honor of Lecturers
Kyle James and his mother were sitting at the kitchen table one night talking about writing.
Takeshi James, a headmistress at Chicago Public Schools, had just finished her first book, From Our Eyes, aimed at middle school students.
“He said, ‘You should write a book about teachers,” recalled Takeshi James. “I said,’ You should, ‘he said,’ OK ‘.”
That was the birth of a new children’s book by Kyle James, a St. Rita recipient, who left this fall to pursue his academic and athletic career at the University of Chicago.
“Teacher Legion” tells the stories of teachers, supervisors, canteen workers and others who kept schools running during the worst pandemic in a century.
The premise of the book? All of these people are modern heroes. So James took a cue from pop culture and gave them their moment in the sun.
“I’ve always loved superheroes since I was a little kid,” he said. “Why not make them superheroes?”
James took the idea with him when he went to Kairos, a three-day student retreat.
“Every night you’re off your phone and social media,” he said. “I wrote the script for the book in about three days.”
He then worked with illustrators David Monroy and Wanda Malave to bring the characters to life. There’s Rewind, a history teacher who uses a time machine to bring students back to ancient Egypt to learn about the pyramids. And there is Gourmet Man, a canteen worker whose superpower shoots food out of his hands.
James worked with the same self-publisher his mother used for her book IngramSpark. The deal came about last December and now “Teacher Legion” is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, among others.
The last month was another milestone: getting a physical copy.
“It wasn’t real to me until I felt the book in my hands. “Did I really just do that?” He said.
He did it too. Takeshi James made sure of that.
“I got him to go through the process himself,” she said. “It’s his job, he made the investment.”
Their influence may have been more subtle over the years. During her tenure as Headmistress, Takeshi James always made sure that Staff Recognition Days were instead of Teacher Recognition Days.
Takeshi James recently spoke about her son’s book on a podcast that was made available to her school staff. After that, she said, “a canteen manager came into my office and cried. She said, “You really have a way of making us feel loved.”
Kyle James has also seen the impact his book has on school staff. His high school teachers are keen to get copies, and one of his St. Rita teachers has already bought one.
He received a shipment of books this week and looks forward to having signed copies out soon.
It was a rewarding experience to put the school staff in the spotlight.
“I felt like they were underestimated,” he said. “When you ask a young child what it would like to be, say doctor, soccer player. I really wanted to put our teachers and school staff on a pedestal. “
Note: For more information on Teacher Legion, please contact James on his Twitter account: @ kylexavierjame1