Assumption School, Morristown, NJ

April 30, 2012

Assumption School, Morristown, NJ

I was really excited to be catching the train out to Morristown New Jersey on Friday where we were catching up with Monica O’Meara and her gorgeous children.  Two of the girls, Molly and Erin went to Abbotsleigh until a year and a half back when they moved, initially to Ireland but then the plan changed and they came to New Jersey via Ohio.  When I told Monica that I was coming to the US she sprang into action and was very keen to organize for me to visit the children’s school. 

We caught a taxi to Penn Station to get the train out of the city.  I have to say that the taxi driver was the most insistent we’ve encountered on the trip so far.  He asked us where we were going on the train and when we said to Morristown he tried to convince us that it would cost about the same if he drove us.  Fortunately we had already caught the train out there on the weekend and knew it was $52 return.  So we asked him, ‘how much?’ and he eventually said that it would be ‘about $120’.  So much for that!
There are various lines that fan out from Penn Station.  It’s huge and a little confusing particularly as they don’t say which platform you have to catch the train from until about ten minutes before departure.  I was anxious about getting the right train and being on time but as always the voice of reason – my husband Ian, told me to stop worrying and it would be fine.  Which of course it was.

The train trip out to Morristown is very pretty.  You pass through places called Madison and Summit – where we had visited the lovely Kent Place on Monday.  The trees are coming into leaf and the houses are picture postcard.  There is also a magnificent Catholic Seminary which I think is now a University just before you reach Morristown. 

Monica was there to greet us with two hot coffees – the woman is a saint!  And it was good coffee too.  That’s two places in Morristown that make good coffee; it’s definitely a front runner in the ‘where would you move to in the US?’ stakes.

We drove through the town and over to the school which is on a beautiful tree lined street with lots of gorgeous homes.  Monica had pre-sold a big number of books which Mendham Books at Menham had supplied, so I got set up and began signing them for the children.  She had also rallied a group of mums to assist with the distribution.

My first session was with the Grade Four group to teach a writing workshop.  The children were engaged and really interested.  I put a slide up on the screen and Monica heard one of the kids whisper to another that I had spelled a word incorrectly.  I was so glad that she heard them as I’d hate to have the reputation of ‘that author from Australia who couldn’t spell’.  It led to a great discussion on the ways we spell things differently in Australia and the UK to the US.

The children shared some of their writing and I was very impressed.  The time flew by and before I knew it, it was time for lunch.  We joined the children in the cafeteria for a chicken salad and a slice of pizza.  Assumption was one of very few schools we’ve visited with a dedicated cafeteria area. 

 

After lunch I spoke to the Grade 2-4 students as a group in the gym.  Monica set the scene with some music from John Williamson playing as the children came in and sat down.  Then I launched into talking about being a teacher, a writer and how Alice-Miranda came to be.  The children had a lot of fun with the drama activity and I saw the teachers laughing when I asked who Assumption’s second best tantrum thrower in the 2nd, 3rd or 4thgrade could be.

It was a great day – over all too soon.  Monica raced us back to the train station so we could get into the city and she could take the kids to their after school activities.  It was wonderful catching up with her and Molly, Erin, Kaley and Colin too – although I’m completely annoyed that I didn’t get a photo with Molly and Erin for their friends back in Australia.  The girls will have to send me one to add to the blog!

We headed back to the city – I wished we’d had more time.  But rest assured, Morristown and Assumption – I will be back J  And Monica – thank you so much for a fantastic visit!

 

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