Grant brings award winning author Paul Volponi to work with seventh grade students

Author+Paul+Volpini+speaks+with+seventh+grade+student++Brenden+Grimminger+during+his+visit.++
Author Paul Volpini speaks with seventh grade student  Brenden Grimminger during his visit.

Author Paul Volpini speaks with seventh grade student Brenden Grimminger during his visit.

Photo by Justina McCaulley

Photo by Justina McCaulley

Author Paul Volpini speaks with seventh grade student Brenden Grimminger during his visit.

Lillian Miller

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Photo by Justina McCaulley
Author Paul Volpini speaks with seventh grade student Brenden Grimminger during his visit.

An Altoona Area School District Foundation grant helped bring author Paul Volponi to work with Maggie Lewis’ seventh grade classes and to visit with and sign books for faculty members available during second period.

“I was excited when the author came because I’ve never met an author before and because he was chill and not stuck up. He taught us alliteration and how to make words sound how they are,” seventh grade student Nevaeh Gibson said.

Volponi began his career as an author at the age of 36; however, when Volponi was eight he tried to rewrite the famous movie The Happiest Millionaire.

“When I was eight, my mother took me to see the Happiest Millionaire, and I tried to steal it by writing the Unhappiest Millionaire,” Volponi said.

Volponi was a teacher for imprisoned teens for 16 years before he became an author. He taught imprisoned juveniles on Rikers Island to read and write. This experience influenced his ALA award winning novels Rikers Island and Black and White. Volponi also  taught teens in drug treatment programs how to read and write which influenced his ALA award winning novel Rooftop.

“The job was open. I wanted to teach in a jail because no one wanted to steal my job,” Volponi said.

Volponi didn’t necessarily say he feels his stories changed the lives of others, but he did say, “Students tell me so, and it feels good to hear it.”

When growing up, Volponi said he liked more music than books, but he was still influenced by some authors.

“I think I liked more music growing up than books, so in books I like Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, and I found some inspiration in Charles Schulz who wrote the Peanuts,”  Volponi said.

Volponi said when he writes he feels “everything.” He will write another book, but he doesn’t know what it is yet.

Besides writing Volponi has a lot of other hobbies.

“I play basketball; I studied underneath a great Kung Fu master for almost a decade, and I like a lot of stuff. “

Some of Volponi’s books are; The Hand You’re Dealt, Crossing LInes, Response, Rooftop, Black and White, Rikers High and more.  Check him out here.

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