On Thursday evening, May 23rd, the South Plainfield Public Library granted me the space and opportunity to release my first book, said the paper to the pen.I anticipated maybe thirty people would come out to hear me read poems that I have written over the years, while teaching at Roosevelt Elementary. Let’s just say I totally underestimated the amount of people that would show up. The room was packed! The amount of love I felt in the library that night was indescribable.

Being able to share my love of writing and poetry throughout South Plainfield is something I hold dear to my heart. One of my goals as a teacher is to help students find their special hidden voice that they may not even know they have. The South Plainfield school district has always allowed me to share my love of writing. I want to thank the South Plainfield Public Library for providing the space to allow me to share this special moment with the community. As soon as I arrived the ladies at the library asked me to sign one of my books. It was covered, stamped, cataloged, and ready to be put onto the shelves. I cannot express how much that moment alone meant to me. After twenty years of teaching and writing as a hobby, people can come to the library and check out my book? Amazing! After that, I knew this evening was going to be special.

As I stood in the front of the room, I saw fellow teachers, administrators, board members, Councilman Derryck White, and Councilwoman Christine Faustini. I saw former students (who I thought may have forgotten about me) and present students (who I love seeing on a daily basis). I am completely humbled by the number of people that showed up to hear a chubby third grade teacher read some poems and talk about his book. 

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I would like to thank Board of Education member, Debbie Boyle for recording the event for me and Tim Moskal and Jennifer Lantigua for taking pictures. This event would not have been as great without Margaret Celentano, Sue Hyun, and Melanie Glowacki for bringing the snacks and setting up the cool photo booth. I love snacks, but NEVER would have thought to have them at the event. This is why everyone needs good people in their corner.

I’d also like to thank Charlie and Deb from Hometown Heroes, and the ladies at the South Plainfield Observer for the years of support and encouragement. Some of my favorite poems in the book have been inspired by the young authors that have won the Junior Journalist Contest. I would also like to thank all of the students and parents that have always supported me in and out of the classroom. The trust between parent/teacher/student is the most important relationship in our children’s development. I can honestly say, working with students in this community has been the most rewarding experience in my life.

Finally, I would like to thank the entire community of South Plainfield. In the last few weeks, I have had kind words written about me in the South Plainfield Observer and Tap into South Plainfield. As soon as I released the book, Mrs. Garcia, our school district’s ELA supervisor, created a bulletin board in the Administration Building celebrating its release. During the BOE meeting Dr. Lishak, Mrs. Malyska, Mr. Diehl, and the members of the Board of Education were highly impressed by the amazing young poets Roosevelt showcased, but also spoke kindly of my book and contribution to the school district. I can’t even begin to count the number of parents and colleagues that have congratulated me. These kind words will never be forgotten and will always be appreciated. I’m excited to continue my journey as a teacher and newly published author, but knowing I have a community in South Plainfield to share this experience with means the most.

Thank You, 

Mike Bertram - “Mr. B”