Ms. Sharon Draper engages and inspires young readers


Ms. Rachel Zurheide

Ms. Sharon Draper signs one of her books during her visit to Sacred Heart Greenwich. Courtesy of Ms. Rachel Zurheide

Ms. Sharon Draper visited the Sacred Heart Greenwich Lower and Middle Schools October 23.  Ms. Draper is an author and teacher and has published 32 books throughout her career.  During the day, she conducted writing workshops with Middle School students, signed books, and discussed her award-winning literary work for children and young adults. 

While at Sacred Heart, Ms. Draper spoke to all of the Middle School students in the Lennie and John de Csepel Theatre about her career.  The students, all of whom read one of Ms. Draper’s novels this past summer, had the opportunity to ask Ms. Draper questions about her books and career.

Among her many works are Blended (2018), Out of My Mind (2010), Forged By Fire (1997), and Tears of a Tiger (1994).  She won numerous literary awards, and The New York Times featured her novels on their list of best-selling books.  In 1995, Ms. Draper received the John Steptoe New Talent AwardIn 2007, she won the Coretta Scott King Literary Award, an annual award dedicated to African American authors and illustrators whose work is tailored towards children and young adults.

Ms. Draper addressed the Middle Schoolers about their own identity and how each student has the power to become a writer.  Sutton Burchetta ’26 appreciated Ms. Draper’s positive message to the students.

“The most valuable thing that Sharon Draper taught me was that we can be whatever we want,” Sutton said.  “No one can tell us what we can or can not do, as she said: ‘We have the power!'”

Afterward, students had the opportunity to speak to Ms. Draper individually during a book signing event.  Students from The Waterside School in Stamford, Connecticut, also traveled to Sacred Heart for the book signing and to meet Ms. Draper. 

Additionally, the Middle School Hearts Together Club and the 7th- and 8th-Grade Book Club met with Ms. Draper for a writing workshop.  Ms. Megan Monaghan, Middle School English Teacher, shared her thoughts on Ms. Draper’s visit.

“The most powerful take-away was probably her advice to students that they all have the power to be writers,” Ms. Monaghan said.  “Ms. Draper influenced several students to read her latest book, Blended, because she gave several intriguing teasers about the plot.”

As a child, Ms. Draper loved to read and was interested in the prospect of learning as a whole.  Ms. Draper was also fascinated with the thought of becoming a teacher.  In high school, she was acknowledged as a National Merit Scholar, took honors and advanced classes, and read almost every book in her school library, according to

Ms. Draper talks to students from the Waterside School during her book signing.  Sydney Gallop ’20

She graduated with a degree in English from Pepperdine University at the age of 20.  She then earned a master’s degree from Miami University of Ohio in 1974.  Following her graduation in 1974, she worked as a teacher in Ohio.  Ms. Draper won the National Teacher of the Year award in 1997.  This award is presented to teachers who exemplify the ability to academically inspire children and have earned the respect of their colleagues, students, and school.  

One of Ms. Draper’s children has cerebral palsy and inspired her bestselling novel, Out of My Mind.  This realistic fiction novel is about an eleven-year-old girl named Melody with cerebral palsy, a photographic memory, and a passion for learning, according to  Although Ms. Draper usually writes for an audience of young adults, her novels have impacted people of all ages, specifically Ms. Monaghan.

“My favorite Sharon Draper book is Out of My Mind,” Ms. Monaghan said.  “The narrator, a young girl who is unable to talk or move, is such a unique perspective and the story inspires students to build empathy and practice greater kindness.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Ms. Rachel Zurheide