After months of writing, editing, revising, and hard work, Keren Albiston and her students in the Navigator Program at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School celebrated their book’s publication with a book signing on the night of June 15. “Hadley’s Mystery Box Adventure” focuses on one of the students receiving a visit from Hadley the Train; together they bring mystery boxes to all of their friends. The students then are given a chance to share their individual story of what they find in their own mystery box after Hadley delivers it.
For those unaware, the Navigator Program is a mostly self-contained class that’s dedicated to students with various levels of disabilities. The community in the program is extremely close, as shared by Albiston: “We have built a community in the Navigator Program where all students and teachers feel valued, cared for, and loved. It is a place where strengths are identified and celebrated, so you are able to grow to be the best version of yourself.”
“I wanted to think of a prompt that would tie each student’s story with a common theme, but also allow them to use their own imaginations,” Albiston said when asked about the inspiration behind the book. The students were then tasked with writing prompts of what would happen if they found a mystery box that could contain anything. They received any amount of help they needed to get their ideas on paper. It was important to Albiston and all the education support staff that they were able to comfortably tell the story they wanted to, even through the editing process. “After their drafts were complete, they illustrated their stories, and then I compiled their stories into a book, and was able to weave the first student’s story of delivering the boxes to each student between the stories.”
The students and their families, friends, and staff members came together to celebrate their hard work over those months. Once they were able to grab the finished copy, no one was able to contain their excitement, and smiles started to pop up one after another. “The books are beautifully bound by the company. They took great pride in showing their families what they had accomplished, and sharing their school community with their families,” Albiston said.