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Mount Hebron teacher releases new children's book

Jerdine Nolen
Jerdine Nolen (Courtesy photo)

When she was a child growing up outside of Chicago, Jerdine Nolen's father served as a minister and worked as a laborer, leaving Nolen with a longing for her dad to have more time to play.

As she was raising her two children, she noticed they were having the same experience.

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"Their dad was so busy trying to do what he thought was making a living, but they didn't have as much time with him and I think that's a predicament of our society," she said.

That led Nolen, a Mount Hebron High School special education teacher and an award-winning children's book author, to pen Irene's Wish, which tells the tale of a young girl wishing her father could be home more often. Her wish comes true when her father surprisingly transforms into a talking tree.

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Irene's Wish, which Nolen actually wrote about 10 years ago, was released Oct. 28, joining nearly a dozen other picture books Nolen has had published. Next year, she'll be releasing a series of easy-to-read books.

"A lot about my books, you have to kind of suspend logic," Nolen said.

Although most of her published work have been picture books geared toward children ages 5 to 9, in 201, Nolen released Eliza's Freedom Road, a story of a young girl's journey from slavery on the Underground Railroad. It's intended for children ages 8 to 12.

Nolen, an Ellicott City resident, said she's drawn to writing picture books to fulfill a child's sense of wonder.

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"Children have imaginations. We have to foster that love of language and words," she said.

Nolen has taught at Mount Hebron since 2004, and has worked in education for more than 20 years. From 1987 to 1997, she was a school administrator in Baltimore County Public Schools.

Although teaching has always been her passion, she's just as passionate about her writing.

"I think I have the best of all possible worlds," she said of her career as a teacher and writer.

Through her roles as both a special educator in the Mount Hebron English department and a writer, Nolen is working to cultivate a society of readers.

"That means that you're a thinker and I think the thing that unites us and ties us together is our common human story," she said. "The whole world revolves around the story."

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