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WNY teacher writes book that addresses pandemic learning challenges

“Cornelia Spunk Can Learn Next to a Skunk” is Hailey Glynn’s second book. Her hope is for students to take control over their learning, whether in class or at home.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — What a school year it has been so far for both students and teachers.

The COVID-19 pandemic turned learning upside down in many ways for kids, from learning at home to hybrid models, and even wearing masks in class.

Buffalo teacher Hailey Glynn knows the changes are challenging for many students, including her own. She wanted to write a children’s book to encourage students to stay positive and own their learning journeys, no matter how different or difficult they might be right now.

Glynn published “Cornelia Spunk Can Learn Next to a Skunk” just a few weeks ago.

"It's really difficult for a lot of these students to learn in these different environments. I wanted to touch on that but also create a story that could be used in a more timeless manner as well," said Glynn.

Credit: Hailey Glynn


The story’s main character learns in silly or odd places — next to her snoring grandpa and on top of a pie, for example.

"It's kind of acknowledging that we all need breaks sometimes. And when we are learning new things, it can become overwhelming at times, especially in these bizarre situations when we may not have the direct support that we need," said Glynn.

She wants students to know that learning can happen anywhere, though it’s not always easy.

"It's understanding that everyone learns at different paces, and everyone works at different rates and that's okay. Don't compare yourself to the person next to you, your sisters and brothers, what you're seeing through the screen or next to you in the classroom," said Glynn.

This is Glynn’s second children’s book. She published “When Virona the Corona Came to Town” in late summer.

She wanted to explain the coronavirus pandemic in a kid-friendly way.

"With my first book, I wasn't thinking that it would reach students past my own. When that took off, I was just so excited that children basically all over the world at this point were able to take that story and use it to help them understand this wild time," said Glynn.

Her first book has sold more than 50,000 copies worldwide and has more than 1,000 reviews on Amazon.

Her latest book mentions pandemic-related things, like virtual learning and being surrounded by plexiglass, but she hopes there’s a long-lasting message for students.

It was important for Glynn to focus on diversity and inclusion in her books and illustrations. She said that’s something that’s lacking in children’s literature.

"Encouraging students to celebrate differences. If we don't see those differences, don't experience those differences, we're not going to know that those exist," said Glynn.

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