2012-04-05 / Front Page

Teamwork and friendship ‘Take Over’ in teacher’s book

Scarborough resident authors a second children’s book
By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

John Goff, a third grade teacher at C.K. Burns Elementary School in Saco, has just published his second chapter book, “The Take Over,” which began as a story he read to his students during classroom read-a-longs. (Michael Kelley photo) John Goff, a third grade teacher at C.K. Burns Elementary School in Saco, has just published his second chapter book, “The Take Over,” which began as a story he read to his students during classroom read-a-longs. (Michael Kelley photo) John Goff, a third grade teacher at C.K. Burns School in Saco, doesn’t consider himself an author, but with his second book coming out this month, that label may just stick.

His new book, “The Take Over,” published by Bryson Taylor Publishing, is all about shaking labels and being comfortable with who you are.

The Saco-based publishing company also published his first book, “One Bad Thing.” Both books deal with bullying.

“‘The Take Over’ is about a group of kids who get labeled as trouble makers and misfits. They start to believe it and get sent to the worst teacher in the school, who happens to be a bully himself. They decide by using teamwork they can work together to improve their experience in the school,” said Goff, a resident of Scarborough.

The book, he noted, is 170 pages long and targeted to students in third through sixth grade. He said every book he writes he tries to include a central theme. This book centers on the power of teamwork, positive thinking, reputation and building friendships.

“As a teacher you want to do what you can to improve the lives of your students,” Goff said. “If there is a book that can have a message that resonates with students as a reader, as an author that is what I am trying to do.”

On April 10 Goff and Joe Rosshirt, a Maine College of Art graduate who illustrated the front cover, will be holding a book release reception at the school, which is located on Middle Street, just off Route 1 in downtown Saco. The event, which is open to the public, will take place in the school’s library from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Publishing “The Takeover” was a longtime coming. Goff, who has been teaching at C.K. Burns School since 1998, said he came up with some of the story ideas for the book in 2003, almost 10 years before it was published.

“I like the idea, but the writing needed some work. I put it on the shelf for a bit. I wrote “One Bad Thing,” and came back to it after many of my students asked when I was writing another book,” he said.

Goff said his student played a big role in bringing “The Take Over” from an idea to a published book.

“Most kids are honest and tell you if you if they like it or not,” Goff said. “They can provide some valuable feedback because they are your target audience.”

The students heard various versions of the book and weighed in about what worked well and what did not. In fact, one of his current third-grade students came up with the title of the book.

While “The Take Over,” has been well received by his students, both past and current, C.K. Burns School principal Terrence Young has also become a fan of the book.

“As a career educator and a parent of two young boys, it is always exciting when I discover a book that will engage children from the first page to the last,” Young wrote in a review of the book. “’The Take Over’ by John Goff is a book children will find engaging and will not be able to put down.”

Young said the book also has an important message to offer both children and adults.

“John’s stories reflect real-life conflicts that children, and those who raise and work with them, can readily identify. As the plot unfolds, children are empowered and adults are reminded of the importance of supporting children learning throughout the process, teaching them how to use their naturally instinctive problem-solving skills,” Young continued. “All who read this book will appreciate the characters’ struggles and triumphs, and recognize the importance of children learning to self-confidently evaluate, work together in a society and solve issues that may arise.”

Goff said sharing the book with his students not only exposed them to those important life lessons, but also offered them a glimpse into the work it takes to get a book published.

“Writing is a process and everything is not done (quickly). Sometimes you need to step back, get some feedback and rethink things,” Goff said.

Writing his books, Goff said, has allowed him to reach many more children than he could in his classroom.

“I got into education to improve the lives of children, not just the children in Saco,” he said.

“The Take Over,” will be available at brysontaylorpublishing.com, barnesandnoble.com, and amazon.com. The book may also be available at Nonesuch Books, which carried his 2008 book, “One Bad Thing.”

Goff said he would support a library picking up his book like the Dyer Library in Saco did with “One Bad Thing.”

“I am very happy when my books are available in libraries because it is getting the story in the hands of the readers. When a student picks up a book and appreciates it, you have done your job,” Goff said.

He said he already has some ideas for future books, including a sequel to “One Bad Thing.”

“I write the books to be entertaining, but also to have some sort of meaning to help the reader become more confident in who they are,” Goff said.

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