Memoirs from a Groupie

In February I attended the Wisconsin State Reading Association Convention, and had the honor of introducing Sam Bennett.  Truth be told, I was at the November Leadership Meeting in Stevens Point and they were looking for introducers.  I noticed Sam’s name still had a space for an introducer.  I bowled three people over to get to that sheet of paper and write my name in that space!

So, on Friday, February 6th, I had the privilege of introducing Sam Bennett.  Now, for those of you who don’t quite get the shock and awe, my son summed it up best:  “Oh, so it’s like me sitting down with my CEO and actually learning what makes him tick.”  Yeah, kid, something like that!

I encourage all of you to attend professional development; take part as an introducer, work in registration, present if you can!  Get out there and encourage your fellow educators and network!  We need to support each other and all of our positive work!

Here was my introductory email to Sam:

Hi Sam!
I’m emailing you today because I will be your introducer on Friday at 1:00 for the Wisconsin State Reading Convention!

How cool is that?

In my introduction I could certainly mention your awards, accolades, titles and stuff like that . . . (and if there are specific ones you want me to list, I certainly will), but I’d like to introduce you explaining how you inspired me!

It would go something like this:

This afternoon I have the pleasure of introducing Sam Bennett, Instructional Coach, Educational Consultant, and owner of Samantha Bennett, Consulting.  I met Sam two years ago when she and Cris Tovani were presenting in Green Bay for WSRA.  Their presentation, “Adolescent Reading, RX,” inspired me to take the plunge into coaching.  I was a literacy educator at a suburban school and going back to school to get my reading specialist license.  I knew I wanted to move out of the classroom and support teachers, but I wasn’t sure what that would look like.  After seeing Sam interact with Cris: taking detailed notes on Cris’ teaching, asking coaching and clarifying questions and sharing the feedback from the students, I knew it was time to follow Sam’s footsteps.  After the presentation, I purchased Sam’s book entitled, That Workshop Book: New Systems and Structures for Classrooms That Read, Write, and Think and haven’t put it down since.  I wrote my Master’s thesis based on the Workshop Model and even though the book highlights elementary through middle school, it has been my go-to book for best practice in structuring Workshop.  So, while I could go on and on about Sam and all of her accomplishments, I want her to know that her main accomplishment was me.  I am currently an Instructional Coach/Reading Specialist in Milwaukee Public Schools.  Thank you, Sam, for supporting me through coaching, through writing and through The  I would not be where I am today without you!”

Sam thought the introduction was great and I was thrilled to receive this reply:


This is beautiful! I forwarded it to my husband because he suspects cris and I just mess around when we go on the road together! 

Thank you so much! I’m overwhelmed, really!

See you next week! 


As you can imagine, I was on cloud 9!  Friday morning as I was working registration I had an epiphany!   Why not email Sam (after all we’re gal pals now!), and ask her if she wanted to skip the whitefish for lunch and go to the Miller Time Pub prior to her workshop?  I could ask her some of my most pressing life questions (‘what do you think of my blog?’; ‘do you think I could get into consulting?’; and the really big one, ‘is it time for a book?’).  I asked the registration team their thoughts about asking Sam to lunch and was told that wasn’t proper protocol.  A “featured speaker” probably had “people” with her and no doubt, would be eating with them.  I was deterred for about three seconds.  All she could say was no, right?  I texted Sam and within a couple of minutes received my reply!

Sam and I had a wonderful lunch and a visit I will always treasure.

So, thank you Sam for your time, your suggestions and your encouragement!  I can’t wait to see you and Cris next year in Colorado!