School Visits: Spotlight on Students and Storytellers

September 30 - October 2, 2022


This program is fully booked. Click here to join the waitlist.

Online Weekend Intensive

Join Andrea Loney, Carmen Oliver, Michelle Cusolito and guests for a productive weekend to develop your 20-minute virtual visit (plus strategies to expand or condense it as needed) with faculty support.  You’ll blend who you are as a storyteller with resonant content and materials to create genuine connections with kids or teens, educators, administrators, and librarians.  The course includes presentations, generative studio hours, a post course submission with a 1:1 consultation, and more.

  • Live Lectures (with closed captioning)
    • Friday, September 30 (7pm – 9pm EST)
    • Saturday, October 1 (11 – 3pm EST)
    • Sunday, October 2 (11 – 12pm EST (optional); 1 – 3pm EST)
  • 1:1 20-minute phone/Zoom consultation post course to discuss prepared materials and mini-presentation
  • Hands-on exercises to build your scripted virtual presentation (and ideas for an in-person model)
  • 16 participants max

Feedback Expected:

  • 1:1 20-minute phone/Zoom consultation with faculty post course to discuss prepared materials and mini-presentation
  • Informal support and feedback during generative studio sessions as you prepare materials for your school visits


The heart of a powerful presentation begins with understanding who you are as a storyteller, and then using that understanding to create a genuine connection with kids and teens through the material you present.  If you want to create and deliver an engaging presentation, this workshop offers the unique opportunity to jumpstart your plans for school visits and beyond.
School Visits: Spotlight on Students and Storytellers Online Weekend Intensive, Starts Sept. 30, with Andrea J. Loney, Carmen Oliver and Alison Green Myers and Michelle Cusolito
During this weekend intensive, you will work (with faculty support) toward developing a 20-minute virtual presentation that brings you into the spotlight, with care and attention towards your intended audience.

We’ll also offer many ideas for how to expand that 20-minute presentation into longer virtual or in-person sessions, and condense it into five-minute book talks for educators.

During our weekend together, you will:

  • Receive advice from educators and authors about what makes an engaging school visit for many age groups
  • Uncover your strengths in public speaking and the story-behind-your-story to share with kids
  • Prepare materials for a 20-minute virtual presentation
  • Share ideas about expanding your virtual presentation for longer virtual visits and in-person events
  • Discuss ways to connect with teachers, librarians, and administrators
  • Discuss finances related to school and public visits

Throughout the workshop, you’ll receive:

  • Informal feedback on ideas and exercises.
  • Practical and personal approaches to connecting with students during school visits.
  • Ways to build public speaking skills.
  • An overview of technology available to create presentation slides, including Canva, PowerPoint, Google Slides, and more.
  • An overview of virtual visit technologies including Zoom (webinars and meetings), Teams, and more.

Post-course, you will submit your 20-minute recorded presentation and any materials that you’ve created.

Following your submissions you will receive a 1:1 20-minute phone/Zoom consultation with a faculty member to review the presentation and discuss next steps. The submission deadline is October 21 to allow faculty ample time to familiarize themselves with your work in advance of your meeting. If this is an issue, please let us know.

Meetings will be scheduled at a mutually convenient time for you and your faculty during the weeks of October 30 – November 13.


  • You are an author or illustrator. This course is open to both authors and illustrators, regardless of experience level.  At least one published or pre-published title is recommended– traditionally or self-published.
  • You would like to develop or refine your school presentations. School visits are an excellent way to promote your books and earn extra income. This course will help you develop the best presentation for your audience.
  • You are a debut author or illustrator. Learn ways to get your new title into the hands of readers, including children, teachers, and librarians.
  • You like the structure of a weekend intensive with all sessions taking place over the course of three days, with small group opportunities and large group lectures.


Friday, September 30, 7-9pm Eastern

Part 1: You, Your Stories, & Connecting with Students

  • Welcome with opening writing exercise: The YOU in Your Stories
  • Small Group Introductions: Share your connections
  • What I know/ What I wish I knew (About school visits!)
  • Homework: Preparing for our hands-on sessions tomorrow; what to bring


Saturday, October 1, 11-3pm Eastern

Part 2: The Heart of it All (11am – 12pm Eastern)

  • Guest Presentation: Always Centering Students in Your Visit


Part 3: The Structure of a School Visit (12:30pm – 2pm Eastern)

  • For Online Visits: A brief overview of technology
  • For In-Person Visits: New considerations
  • For Both: Audience size, age range, technology, and length

Break into small groups

Part 4: Facilitated Small Groups

  • Grouping based on audience age range/themes
  • Preparing your “run of show” for a 20 minute presentation
  • Homework: Keep going! (and what to bring tomorrow)


Sunday, October 2, 11am -12pm Eastern (optional) + 1 – 3pm Eastern

Part 5: Optional Small Group Feedback (11am – 12pm Eastern)

  • Facilitated discussions by faculty in your small groups: What’s working; where do you need help?


Part 6: Contracts, Finances, and Booking School Visits (1:00pm – 2pm Eastern)

  • Ways to connect with teachers, librarians, and administrators
  • Ways to get “buy in” from schools
  • Sample contracts (virtual and in-person)


Part 7: Q & A and Next Steps (2:00pm – 3pm Eastern)

  • Faculty panel: Your questions answered
  • Guidelines for submitting your presentation and getting feedback

A note about workshop agendas and how they change and evolve.

Following the course you’ll be invited to take part in our Community Office Hours on Mondays at 12pm Eastern, beginning Monday, October 3 through Monday, November 28.


This weekend intensive is best if you attend or watch all lectures, set aside time to craft your script and needs for a 20-minute virtual school visit, and engage in the post course consultation. (Note: If your schedule does not allow you to attend the live sessions and you would still like to register, that’s OK! You’ll have access to the recordings with closed captioning. They’re posted the day after the session, and they’ll be available through November 30, 2022.)

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

As mentioned, you’ll want to take advantage of the 1:1 feedback from the faculty, who will give feedback on your 20-minute recorded school visit and materials that you’ve developed. The submission deadline is October 21 to allow faculty ample time to familiarize themselves with your work in advance of your meeting. If this is an issue, please let us know. Meetings will be scheduled at a mutually convenient time for you and your faculty during the weeks of October 30 – November 13.

Trying to figure out how this course fits into your schedule? Read some ideas about planning for the right level of commitment.


A visit or book talk can bring a story to life for a kid, and give them a glimpse into the process storytelling.  It can also spark new love for reading, and create genuine connection and opportunities for learning.  Build visits that speak to your audience in your own unique voice to foster this experience.

Why do we mention this? Learn about the Highlights Foundation mission.


Faculty Interview: Carmen Oliver
Faculty Interview: Andrea Loney
Video: #HFGather: Claribel Ortega on Immersive Book Launches and Virtual Visits
Podcast: Aram Kim: Doing School Visits When You’re Not an Extrovert
Inspiration for Turning Your Book Into School Visit Material
Five simple rules to minimize the dangers of public appearances
Three Tips for Awesome Author Visits


“The synergy and positive energy from three faculty members were almost unbelievable.”

“Very knowledgeable instructors with lots of wisdom and experience to share. We all learned a great deal from them.”

“The faculty’s deep belief in what they’re sharing, their knowledge, their commitment to helping us connect with kids and spread the joy of books.”


Andrea J. Loney

Andrea J. Loney’s picture books include the biography TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VANDERZEE (Lee & Low Books New…
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Carmen Oliver

Carmen Oliver is the author of many award-winning picture books for children including A Voice for the Spirit Bears: How…
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Michelle Cusolito

Special Guest Michelle Cusolito is the award-winning author of Flying Deep: Climb Inside Deep-Sea Submersible Alvin and Diving Deep: Using…
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Alison Green Myers

Special Guest Alison is an avid reader, poet, and writer. She has served as a classroom teacher, literacy coach, curriculum…
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