As 2nd graders at the Forestdale School filed into the multi-purpose room last Friday, they began chanting as soon as they saw the guest of honor.
“Teddy! Teddy! Teddy!” they shouted, hundreds of tiny voices in unison.
In fact, the Class of 2033 began chanting for Theodore J. (Teddy) Biron the year before when he was arguably their favorite lunch monitor at the school. However, at Friday’s assembly, they were cheering him on as the newly published children’s book author and illustrator prepared to read them his story, “The Lighthouse Keeper Saves the Bay.”
The book was written while he was working at the school, Mr. Biron explained. His written drafts were penned in the classroom of 1st grade teacher Jennifer Castellano while the beginning illustrations were sketched out on scrap paper in the teachers' lounge.
He asked teacher Joanne Saunders if she could read his initial drafts to her 2nd graders to see if his words were resonating with his target audience.
After six months, multiple drafts and countless late nights perfecting his drawings on his iPad, Mr. Biron presented his final product, which is currently a best seller on Amazon.com.
While the 2nd graders were boisterous when they entered the room, they quickly quieted down when he started to read.
The story tells of a lighthouse keeper who takes action to clean up the ocean after pollution drove all the sea creatures away.
Having grown up in Sandwich, Mr. Biron said that the story’s inspiration came from living near the ocean.
After he read his book, he asked if the students had any questions. Many asked him how long it took him to write it (six months), how he drew the pictures (on his iPad with an Apple Pencil) and how he chose which image would be on the cover (several options were sent to the publisher, who chose their favorite.)
Mr. Biron also gave the students some valuable advice about not giving up and being persistent with their work.
“I wrote the book three times with different words, just to make sure it was perfect,” he said to the students. “So that’s what you get ready to do in kindergarten. Your first try isn’t going to be your best, you’ve got to improve on it.”
When a 2nd grader asked how he decided to become an author, Mr. Biron said that when his peers were dreaming of being firefighters and airplane pilots, he was finding joy in reading children’s books and realized it would be the perfect way to combine his love of art and writing.
Once the 2nd graders concluded their question and answer session, Mr. Biron led the youngsters in a drawing lesson. He showed them how to draw the seal and lighthouse from his book.
The students were very excited to show him what they had created under his guidance.
As the students got ready to head back to class, they once again began chanting Mr. Biron’s name.
Mr. Biron, a Sandwich High School Class of 2020 graduate, began working at the school in the fall following his graduation. There, he would bring students their lunches in their classrooms and hang out with them while they ate.
He is known for making lunch special, watching movies and cartoons with the students and for joking with them and having fun. Last year, he returned to work at the school in the same position, albeit in the cafeteria with more students.
Having been an integral part of most of their time at the school, Mr. Biron has endeared himself to the Class of 2033, earning him the warm welcome he received when they saw him again.
His appearance at the school last week is likely his last for some time as he prepares to move to Florida. While he does not yet know what he will be doing once he gets there, he knows what he is glad he will not be doing.
“I do not want to shovel snow off my car,” he said.