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Announcing the Recipients of the 2017 Artist-in-Residency Scholarships

Scholarships were named for each of our Artists-in-Residency to honor their contributions to the field of children’s literature. Our 2016 honorees – Meg Medina, Jerry Spinelli, Eileen Spinelli, and Suzanne Bloom – received numerous scholarship applications and personally reviewed each submission on the basis of artistic talent and seriousness of purpose. Recipients of the named scholarships will attend a workshop of their choosing from our 2017 program offerings.

The 2017 Meg Medina Scholarship
Meg Medina is a generous mentor, gifted speaker, and award-winning author of books for children and teens. Meg selected Kelly O’Connor McNees as the recipient of the 2017 Meg Medina Scholarship. Of Kelly, Meg said, “I think Kelly shows great promise. I think her connection to children’s fiction springs from the right place. There’s no need to teach or moralize, but rather explore through a lens.”

Kelly O’Connor McNees, 2017 Meg Medina Scholarship Recipient

Kelly O’Connor McNees is the author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, In Need of a Good Wife, and The Island of Doves. Kelly selected “Historical Realities in Fiction for Children” to attend as the Meg Medina Scholarship recipient.

“We are formed in stories, and the stories we tell about ourselves grow from the stories we tell about the past. And that’s exciting because so many of the stories of history are not yet told, and these tales of courage and hope, these unheard voices, matter in the most vital way to young readers who use stories to imagine who they might become and who they already are. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to learn and write at the Highlights Foundation so that I may do my part in working to bring history alive in fiction.”

The 2017 Jerry Spinelli Scholarship
Jerry Spinelli is the celebrated author of over 25 novels for children and teens as well as collections of poetry and picture books. Jerry noted the high level of writing in all of his applications. Jerry selected Rod Martinez as the recipient of his scholarship because of the nuance Rod brought to his story. Jerry said, “Here comes a fresh, intriguing take that pulls the reader in immediately. Bravo!”

Rod Martinez, 2017 Jerry Spinelli Scholarship Recipient

Rod Martinez was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. He has always loved words. In grade school, he wrote his first story, The Boy Who Liked to Read. His teacher encouraged Rod to keep writing. In high school, Rod discovered comic books and, thanks to praise from a teacher, started writing short stories. Rod’s road to becoming a writer was paved by motivating teachers. Rod’s middle grade adventure, The Juniors, was published in 2011. Rod selected “Books With Bite” as the 2017 workshop he will attend.

“Writing for kids was a choice that I made after my son challenged me to pen a story about him and his friends, like The Goonies. I did it, and that story opened up the floodgates of writing mysteries and adventure stories, all with paranormal twists. My passion is the written word, and my goal is to share these stories with as many young readers as possible.”

The 2017 Eileen Spinelli Scholarship
Eileen Spinelli is a cherished author and poet for young children. She selected Mary E. Cronin as the recipient of her scholarship. Of Mary’s writing sample, Eileen said, “Menders is beautifully crafted. The writing is graceful, and the main character Elsie is quite engaging. Mary’s writing touched my heart.”

Mary E. Cronin, 2017 Eileen Spinelli Scholarship Recipient

Mary E. Cronin lives on Cape Cod and divides her time between teaching and writing. Mary’s poetry has been published in anthologies and children’s magazines. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Mary teaches creative writing and poetry workshops in a wide variety of settings. She is an early-literacy trainer for Cape Cod Head Start programs; she also teaches creative writing at local schools and at the Barnstable County Correctional Facility. Mary selected “Picture Books & All That Jazz” as the 2017 workshop that she will attend.

“Knowing that Eileen Spinelli chose my application for the Highlights Foundation scholarship means the world to me. Her books have a way of making the ordinary extraordinary, and I aim to do the same as I attend the ‘Picture Books & All That Jazz’ workshop to work on my picture book about a young girl celebrating the wedding of her two moms.”

The 2017 Suzanne Bloom Scholarship
Suzanne Bloom is the author and illustrator of many books for young readers. Suzanne emphasized the high level of talent in her applicants. She selected Carolyn Dee Flores as the recipient of her scholarship. “Carolyn’s story needs to be told,” Suzanne said. “As an artist and visiting author, Carolyn is accomplished and professional. She definitely knows her way around a picture book. I would love to meet Carolyn. Her work is so strong, and I’m pleased that she is this year’s choice.”

Carolyn Dee Flores, 2017 Suzanne Bloom Scholarship Recipient

Carolyn Dee Flores is a computer programmer turned rock musician turned children’s book author and illustrator. She loves experimenting with unconventional art equipment and mediums in her work. Carolyn served as the inaugural illustrator mentor for the #WeNeedDiverseBooks mentorship program. Carolyn plans to attend Denise Fleming’s residency as the Suzanne Bloom Scholarship recipient.

“The Highlights Foundation made me realize I could create great books! When I was there, my work was acknowledged. I was among brilliant minds. I saw wonder in every space and living thing. And, as I breathed it in, I knew I was a changed person, a better artist. And that all of this potential … was truly at my fingertips.”

Please join us in congratulating Carolyn, Mary, Rod, and Kelly on being named this year’s recipients.  Thank you to Meg Medina, Suzanne Bloom, Jerry Spinelli, and Eileen Spinelli for all of their efforts.

We would also like to thank all writers and illustrators who applied for the highly competitive Artist-in-Residency scholarships. To learn more about our general scholarship program, please click here.

Posted on: January 30, 2017

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