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Acclaimed Author and Illustrator Jerry Craft Shares His Creative Process in School Meeting

  • Speaker Program
Acclaimed Author and Illustrator Jerry Craft Shares His Creative Process in School Meeting

Jerry Craft, an acclaimed American author, illustrator, and cartoonist, best known for his work in children's literature, particularly graphic novels, recently spoke to the boys in a fascinating School Meeting. Mr. Craft detailed the journey of his career: the failures, the successes, his work process, and how ideas evolve into powerful stories that touch lives. He also gave wonderful demonstrations of how his cartoons come to life. 

"I realized early on what my passion was, and my passion was drawing comics," he explained. "So with everything that I tell you, I want you to pretend that there's a ladder. And at the top of the ladder is your goal, and it may change over your lifetime. Mine has changed a few times. And each step will get you closer to whatever your goal is."

Mr. Craft's most notable work to date is "New Kid," published in 2019. This graphic novel tells the story of Jordan Banks, a young African American boy navigating life at a prestigious private school where he is one of the few students of color. "New Kid" received widespread praise for its thoughtful exploration of identity, race, and belonging. In 2020, it became the first graphic novel to win the prestigious Newbery Medal, which is awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Mr. Craft's contributions to children's literature have earned him numerous awards and accolades, and his work continues to resonate with readers of all ages. He remains an influential figure in the literary community, using his talents to promote empathy, understanding, and inclusivity.

The March 1, 2024 School Meeting was followed by a discussion session with Form I students and other interested students. In Form I English, students  are presented with a rich and varied array of literature and language experiences. The theme for the course is the hero. What characteristics do heroes have? What do we value in ourselves and in others? The short stories, poems, myths, and selected novels challenge readers to look beyond mere events into the dimensions of voice, tone, theme, character, and style. Texts for the course include Mr. Craft's New Kid, along with The Diary of Anne Frank, The Pearl, The House on Mango Street, The Call of the Wild, Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of the Greek Myths, and Warriors Don’t Cry, Pattilo.

The visit was the second event sponsored by the . Established in 2022 by Dena and Michael Rashes to honor the extraordinary teaching and mentoring of Doctor Jeffrey A. Fast. During his decades at Belmont Hill, Doc. Fast has impacted generations of students and faculty and this fund honors his legacy at Belmont Hill. The Doctor Jeffrey A. Fast Visiting Authors and Writers Fund launches a new program, allowing the chair of the English Department to recruit authors and writers to campus each year. The fund also provides resources to promote growth in pedagogical excellence like Harkness training or other worthwhile seminars.


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