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Homeschooler’s poem to be published in anthology - Apr. 17, 2014


Chris Roberts/Courier
With parents Mark and Kamilla, Myla O’Dell shows off her poem “Autumn’s Last Surprise,” which will be published in a poetry anthology coming out in May. Myla’s poem was selected as one of the top 10 K-3 poems throughout North America, submitted to Creative Communication.

Chris Roberts
St. Stephen
Last October, Myla O’Dell and her mother, Kamilla, wandered through the woods near their home in Crocker Hill, looking for inspiration.
Myla, a Grade 3 homeschooled girl, was given the task of completing a poem. She had compiled several before, but her words on this particular day struck her mother a little by surprise.
“We were sitting outside in October and it was just a really nice day,” Kamilla recalled on Monday morning. “Her assignment was to just use her five senses and describe what she sees and I just write it down, in her words.”
Her words comprise “Autumn’s Last Surprise,” a poem submitted to a poetry contest sponsored by Creative Communication and was eventually listed among the top 10 poems submitted by K-3 students in North America.
“We have, like, 30 acres of woods, so we feed the birds, deer walk through our property daily, we see a lot of nature in our woods,” said Kamilla.
“I like to go to the edge of the woods and look at all the stuff,” Myla added, with a laugh.
Prior to completing “Autumn’s Last Surprise,” Myla and her mother were simply enjoying their surroundings and taking in the scenic world around them.
Myla would then, as she often does, describe what she sees, noting in the poem that “Fall is far from lifeless.”
The grass is a beautiful green
soaking up the sun.
The golden leaves on the maple trees
are dancing in the breeze.
“The way she talks is kind of poetic when she brings it out,” said Kamilla. “We’ll definitely continue with that.”
The poem not only gave Myla recognition by being listed among the top 10, but it will also be published in a poetry anthology compiled by Creative Communication titled “A Celebration of Writers.” Myla was also awarded $25 for the poem.
She has been homeschooled for four years now. Her parents, Kamilla and Mark, recognize the huge commitment that it is, but have seen the benefits thus far. Both have flexible schedules, so they can be home to keep up with her schooling, and while the curriculum must include certain elements decided by the province of New Brunswick, there is some flexibility in that as well.
“We can tailor it a little bit,” said Mark. “If she has some interest in a certain direction, we can sort of alter her lesson plan a bit.”
Despite the poem’s success, Myla’s current favourite subject is science.
“Each kid, it seems, has certain interests. Rather than maybe taking kids and putting them all in a certain mould, we can kind of focus on her strengths,” Mark added.
Myla and the O’Dells are not alone in their homeschooling venture, however. Mark estimated about 40-50 other kids at the Charlotte County Homeschoolers get-togethers.
“I was surprised when I found out because we didn’t know until this year that they existed,” he said. “We had thought there were maybe half a dozen in the Charlotte County area.”
For the past three years, Myla had been, like public school students, taking the summer off. But this year, rather than five days a week throughout the school year and a summer vacation, Kamilla and Mark have opted to go year-round with Myla’s schooling, while going just three days a week … which is good, because summer’s scenes leave a world of possibility for Myla and her pen.

chrisroberts@stcroixcourier.ca