Longtime Stivers School for the Arts teacher Michael Unger published his first book this year to help fund a scholarship for Dayton Public Schools students.
The book, “TEACH: Lessons I Learned from My Students and Colleagues,” chronicles stories from his 51-year career in urban schools. It fulfills a promise he made to his wife before she died that he would tell his teaching stories.
Last February, he asked seven Stivers creative writing magnet students to help him write the book. Students at Stivers attend the school after an audition in seventh grade for a specific art interest.
“We sat down after school, and I would have a big outline, and I would narrate a story and all they would do is listen,” Unger said. “And then within three days, they would come back with the written-out story, and then we would go over it several times.”
Unger said he thinks of himself as a storyteller, not a writer, so working with the students was helpful.
“The students that I’ve had, all the students have been great students,” Unger said. “They’re creative. They’re smart. So why don’t I just let them see what they could do?”
The students who helped him loved it, Unger said, and were writing the stories quickly so they could hear more. In all, the seven students helped him write about 27 stories.
The scholarship fund for the book has not yet been set up, Unger said, but it is in the works.
Unger said a major theme of the book is courage. He was drafted and fought in the Vietnam War, and he sees courage every day in his students.
“Those men that didn’t come back, I’m kind of doing it for them,” Unger said. “I get to touch 150 people’s lives today, whereas they don’t anymore.”
Hundreds of his students keep in contact with him, and students look forward to his classes.
“If you’re a current student of his or former student, his you can always come back and talk to him, because he leaves his door open,” said Paige Young, a current student of Unger’s.
She added, “I definitely recommended his teaching style to any teacher because it keeps your students engaged and also it keeps that open path of communication.”
The book is $25 and can be purchased online through the publisher or through Unger directly. All proceeds from the book will go toward a scholarship for Dayton Public Schools students.
Purchase online through Braughler Books, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.