Sierra Vista Teacher’s First Book: Perfectly Alice
Stepping into the Center for Academic Success (CAS) High School's Science classroom, the first thing that jumps out is the drawing of MRNA on the whiteboard. I know it's MRNA because it's labeled - but the drawing is detailed.
Elizabeth Doran begins to explain the "love triangle" of MRNA transcription and translation.
The science initially goes over my head, until she shares the story she made up to help her students better understand the intricacies of DNA and how they go about coding proteins. It's not only fun to hear, I begin to understand why her students love her.
Elizabeth Doran is a science teacher, a storyteller, and now a published author. When I ask what she teaches at CAS, she tellsme, "Science". When I ask what kind, she says, "All of them. Earth science, biology, physics. All of them."
All the high school science classes at CAS are taught by Elizabeth. The entire high school student body - around140 kids in 9th through 12 grade - pass through her classroom.
Perfectly Alice is a story that almost wrote itself, according to Elizabeth. Alice was the younger sister of one of her students. Alice was in 4th grade when Elizabeth noticed how she seemed to be uniquely herself, no matter what.
"It struck me that Alice knew exactly who Alice was," Elizabeth explained. "She was a young girl, but she didn't compromise, she didn't try to fit in - she was exactly Alice."
It's Time to Start Writing Our Book
Fast forward. Alice is in 11th grade now, and still isn't swayed by what others expect her to be. This inspired Elizabeth. "It's time to start writing our book," she told Alice one day. So, she made the time and wrote it all in one setting. "I don't know where it all came from, and it all rhymes."
Elizabeth told me this book will certainly connect with younger audiences, but even high school kids are enthralled by it as well. "Alice does what she wants to do," the kids have told Elizabeth. "And that's why they like it, too."
The next step was finding someone to illustrate the story. Elizabeth turned to Leah Pereda, a CAS student who graduated in 2022.
Leah, "dances to her own drummer, as well," Elizabeth said. Which made it a no-brainer to enlist the art and skill of Pereda. Currently attending Cochise College as a graphic design major, she was thrilled to help out.
"I shared the story with Leah, and basically let her vision take over." Putting trust in her view for the story was easy and took the illustrations to places Elizabeth hadn't imagined. Leah's ideas meshed so well, Elizabeth said, "There were very few things I wanted to change."
Ultimately the book was self-published by a company called Gatekeeper Press. Elizabeth hopes to find a national publisher and to write more books, because she'd love to make Alice into a series.
If you'd like to get your own copy of Perfectly Alice, find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or wherever you purchase books online. Elizabeth is hoping to find a local home for Perfectly Alice at a bookstore in Sierra Vista.