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Friday, October 24, 2014

Returning the favor

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Posted: Saturday, December 7, 2013 7:00 am

Waynesboro native Justice Allen was in the fifth grade at William Perry Elementary School during the 2009-10 school year. His substitute teacher, Tiffany Andrews, who was also his third grade reading teacher, was discussing one of her dreams of writing a book, which went on sale on December 3 of this year. Upon talking about her idea with the class she was substituting in, some let what she said go in one ear and out the other, a few said it was a cool idea and Allen was enthralled.

Andrews was caught slightly off guard, but excited by the young student’s interest. He wanted to know more and more about the book, and that trend carried on for years. But, there was nothing in it for Allen, well, at least he thought.

Andrews, the author of Egglegru and His Crew of Gigglers, attributes much of the children’s book and the motivation to complete it to Allen, and to show her gratitude, she decided to donate 50 percent of the proceeds towards a scholarship for the current Waynesboro High School freshman. The two got together on Friday morning as Andrews presented the 14-year-old with a signed copy of the self-published book, which is on sale at Amazon.com. Andrews will write a check for half of the profit when Allen and his family are set to pay for college.

The book tells the tale of Egglegru, a giant living in Staunton, with several references to the large metal sculptures of local artist Willy Ferguson, which can be seen all over town, and other Staunton landmarks. The Giant needed help because when he would drop things, he was too tall to reach the ground, but these little Gigglers, small, joyful creatures with bright red hair and blue skin, would help him to complete his tasks, just like Allen did for Andrews. Her husband works at Kate Collins Middle School, and when Allen was a student there, her husband would receive daily questions from Allen as to the progress of the book. That motivation kept Andrews going.  Andrews, who also created the detailed drawings in the book, recommended Allen to a writing conference in the fourth grade, and she considers him to be her biggest supporter.

“It meant everything,” Andrews said of Allen’s support. “I have a lot of dreams, but I don’t often enough see them through to completion. This is completed, I believe, because of Justice. He showed sincere, selfless interest in seeing me succeed. There was nothing in it for him that he knew of.”

He just thought it was a really cool idea.

“It seemed interesting at the time, and it still does,” a humble, quiet Allen said. “I wanted to see my teacher succeed. It’s awesome. Right now, it’s really expensive to go to [college]. I’m not sure my family can pay the whole thing. This will help a lot.”

The dedication of the book to Justice, which also describes many helping characters in the story, reads “Who was not too greedy, busy or vain to cheer his teacher to fulfilling a dream.”

Andrews is also hoping that local book stores will carry it. They two will be signing copies of the book at Bookworks in Staunton on December 21 from 10 a.m. to noon.

“He helped my dream come true,” Andrews said.

Now she is trying to do the same for him. 

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