The Shepherd University Foundation’s Scarborough Society sponsored a program featuring author-illustrator Erin Sponaugle ’03 on October 18, as part of the Scarborough Society Lecture Series. Sponaugle discussed the process of writing and illustrating her children’s book, “The Adventures of Berkeley the Bear,” and how her background as a teacher influenced the project. She also focused on the illustration process and the importance of nurturing creativity in the classroom.
Sponaugle is a 2003 Shepherd graduate and a National Board Certified Teacher. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in education. Now in her 16th year of teaching, Sponaugle has taught fifth grade at Tomahawk Intermediate School in Hedgesville for the past 14 years.
Sponaugle’s teaching practices have been recognized by Horace Mann, PBS Digital Innovators, and Arch Coal Foundation. In 2014, she was named the West Virginia Teacher of the Year. Sponaugle has made presentations at Shepherd on classroom management to education students and has facilitated continuing education courses on writing and integrating technology. While not a trained artist, she has always enjoyed drawing as a pastime, using primarily colored pencil.
“The Adventures of Berkeley the Bear” is Sponaugle’s first children’s book. The main character is a black bear that is based on a stuffed animal puppet named after Sponaugle’s home county that she took along in her travels across West Virginia when she served as teacher of the year. In the book, Berkeley travels the state introducing children to West Virginia’s most beautiful and historic sites while also learning to have confidence in his own abilities. His sugar maple friends—each representing a state symbol and county in West Virginia—are there to support Berkeley every step of the way. Through an endearing storyline and full-page illustrations, Sponaugle hopes to instill the values of bravery, friendship, and self confidence in young readers.
The Scarborough Society is a friends of the library organization sponsored by the Shepherd University Foundation. Annual membership dues help support library acquisitions, technology, and programs. Membership is open to all interested supporters of the Scarborough Library.