'Papaw and Me' earns accolades for young Surgoinsville writer

Jeff Bobo • Mar 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM

SURGOINSVILLE — Most everybody has a soft spot in their heart for their “Papaw,” but one Surgoinsville eighth-grader has received national attention for putting her feelings into words.

Surgoinsville Middle School eighth-grader Kristen Hale’s book “Papaw and Me” was singled out for special recognition and national distribution by publisher Nationwide Learning Inc.

Hale was among a group of students honored for various accomplishments during a school assembly Wednesday.

For the past two years, Surgoinsville Middle has participated in the “StudenTales” program in which every student writes and illustrates their own book. Every student then receives a free copy of the book paid with funds provided by student organizations.

Last month, Hawkins County Director of Schools Charlotte Britton and SMS Principal Jim Ailshie received a letter from Nationwide Learning Inc. that Hale’s book had been singled out for special recognition.

“Every now and then our company comes across a great story written by a student that deserves special recognition,” company President Joe Gigous stated in the letter. “Kristen Hale’s story ‘Papaw and Me,’ written in Mrs. Bowery’s class at Surgoinsville Middle School, is one. We at Nationwide Learning were inspired by Kristen’s articulation of words, thoughts, ideas and emotions.

“She showed a wonderful attention to detail by conveying the story and her relationship with her Papaw.”

Hale’s family, including “Papaw” Johnny Paul Fife, attended the school assembly Wednesday, where Hale read her story to the entire student body. The story tells of how she lost her father when she was three months old, and the important role her Papaw has played in her life.

“I don’t know what I would do without my Papaw,” she states in the story. “He teaches me everything.”

The story ends, “Papaw is my hero and always will be. I love you, Papaw.”

Hale’s story will be included in Nationwide Learning’s “Great Stories” program and included in a publication to be distributed nationally.

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