Distinguished DeSimone values the power of reading

Behind the Whiteboard: Shelly DeSimone

Lucy Adame, Editor-in-Chief

Shelly DeSimone is a definite jewel of La Serna High school. Distinguished and kind, DeSimone helps students understand the complicated books they read, as well as helps to guide students to reach their goals of success in AP and Puente.

DeSimone has been teaching at La Serna for over 30 years. She graduated from La Habra High School and attended Cal State Fullerton and received a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, as well as her teaching credential. She also attended the University of Montreal to study French. Some of her proudest moments to date include: being a published writer, not only in fiction, but for former US President George H.W. Bush, being the mother of 5 wonderful children (3 adopted, 2 biological), and making it this long. Her idol, she says, “Is my father. He was a really loving man.  He made sure we felt loved… and he would provide us with books. Our house was filled with books, and that made a big difference for me and my siblings. He knew the importance of reading. ”

What are your Top 6 favorite books?

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  2. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin
  3. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  4. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  5. Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
  6. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

If you could be any book character, who would you be?

Anne of Green Gables because she got to read a lot.

What is your funniest memory as a teacher?

Gosh, there are a lot of times my students make me laugh… you know I have just too many moments to think of one that comes to mind. My students are a lot of fun. I like it when they are playful, especially if they find humor in the reading that we do.

What is the best and worst books you read in high school?

My favorite that I got to read was the Great Gatsby, and the worst book I had to read was my math book.

Describe your journey to becoming a published writer.

The first thing I did was I wrote a sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and it was fan fiction. My teacher liked it and sent it on Roald Dahl, the author, and he wrote me back! I still have the letter framed in my office, and that sent me on the path of being a writer. Just the fact that he said some nice things about my writing, even though it was totally a rip-off of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And so then I starting writing in middle school. I wrote a young adult novel that was published, and then I have been writing non-fiction for museums. What I do is called exhibit copy writing. I wrote copy for the George H.W. Bush museum. There is also an area on the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier called a tribute room, and I wrote  the display text in that room.

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to be a published writer? 

Try to write every day. Don’t let writing become a chore. As long as it’s joyful and fulfilling, write. And another thing that a lot of writers say is try to find your voice. Don’t imitate like I did with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Try to find your own voice; your own style.