Scholarships Helped These 2 Teachers Improve Their Storytelling Skills

Dec 27, 2023 | Black Voices, Scholarship Stories

We’d like to introduce you to Bay Collyns and Steph Jones, who both received General Scholarships to attend workshops in 2023. Both are teachers and want to, as Steph says, “write books that will inspire kids to want to be better people who change the world.”

Bay’s Story

Bay says: “My husband and I live in Florida. I relish my years of teaching children and parenting our two daughters. My leisure times allows me to help children with disabilities improve the quality of their lives by riding horses in addition to riding myself. My goal is to improve my storytelling skills that will appeal to children.”

Bay especially appreciates our online courses: “Being a teacher, I work during the day and sometimes I have to grade papers at night. The flexibility of online events is convenient.” She attended our online Crash Course in Children’s Publishing and says “I enjoyed listening to the guest speakers. For the first time I was able to listen and learn the steps that the illustrator experiences as they develop the drawings that help bring a picture book to life. I also enjoyed learning what happens after you get the phone call of representation. Getting a book published is a major undertaking!”

Photo of Bay Collyns

Steph’s Story

Steph B. Jones is an author and a high school English teacher. Steph co-authored a children’s book from Simon & Schuster titled, QUILTING A LEGACY book four in THE INVINCIBLE GIRLS CLUB. You’re likely to find her doing her daughter’s hair, cheering loudly for her girls at cheer competitions, perfecting food recipes from Pinterest or somewhere with her nose buried in a book. Whenever she’s not giving her unsolicited advice on a trending topic in politics or pop culture; she’s binge-watching a classic TV show with her family, napping or bike riding on a trail on her Peloton.

Steph attended our In-Company Retreat and says “My Highlights Foundation experience was everything I didn’t know I needed and more. The campus was gorgeous, the people were so amazing and inspiring. The food. Full stop. The food was simply incredible. The best dishes I’d had in a while. And just the idea of being able to be lost in my thoughts and live in a creative space, engage in conversations with other creatives, was something I wish I wish I could do more often. Highlights Foundation has a lifetime supporter in me. I cannot wait to go back and soak up the magic.”

“I learned so much from each presentation. Everything we did was thoughtful and intentional for both of the writers and illustrators in the room. I gained more insight into how things are done in the industry. I learned some valuable tools of the trade to help me improve my craft from the presenters and the other writers in the group. I will use what I learned to help write books that will inspire kids to want to be better people who change the world.”

Steph says that her scholarship was invaluble to her: “Thank you so very much for investing in creatives that write books for children. Choosing to do this work is hard for a variety of reasons and most of it for people like me it is about access. We cannot be what we do not know. And I do not think I would’ve ever gone to Highlights Foundation if I hadn’t had a scholarship because I am not in a position where I could spare the money to invest in my writing pursuits. But now that I’ve experienced I see the value and it is more than just a retreat and/or workshop it is a valuable life experience that you have to participate in to truly appreciate and value its worth.”

Author photo of Steph Jones
Book Cover: The Invincible Girls Club

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The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.