Photo Yearbook Makes a Wonderful Teacher’s Gift. Q&A with the Mom Who Made the Book.
In a recent post, I told you about an extraordinary teacher’s gift presented by a loving 5th grade class.A class memory photo book put together by one mother with a lot of help from the students and their parents, 5th Grade Rocks covered the school year’s activities in photos and text. I interviewed the mom who headed up this project and she was most willing to share some of her thoughts about the photo book.
Amy Polsinelli was the Room Mom for Ms. DiNoto’s fifth grade class:
Q. How did the idea of a class book come up? Was it your idea?
A. Yes, it was my idea. Initially I wanted to publish a book for Ms. DiNoto with stores from her class that each student had written for her…but it was already the middle of March…and I did not think that I had enough time to gather all of the stories and prepare the book for publishing. So I decided I was going to create a memory book instead.
Q. What major content categories did you want to include?
A. My plan was to make a book that detailed every event throughout the school year. Aside from Pep Rallies and the Talent Show, I think I was able to incorporate everything. (Here’s a brief summary of the many topics Mrs. Polsinelli included:
- A dedication page to the teacher
- A section with individual photos of each child
- A personal note or letter to the teacher from each child — sprinkled throughout the book.
- Classroom photos plus a group photo of the boys and one of the girls
- Individual and small group photos of children engaged in various activities in and out of the classroom
- D.A.R.E. graduation
- Class parties
- 5th Grade’s “Living Wax Museum” project
- Field Day
- Field Trip to Greenfield Village
- Box Lunch Day
- Student/Teacher Volleyball Game
- Dozen of photos of students, the teacher and parent helpers
Q: How long did it take to gather all the content?
A. You don’t want to know! Kidding aside, I began to gather pictures and letters in April. It took me quite awhile to collect a letter from every student. I requested the letters be sent to me via e-mail so Ms. DiNoto couldn’t see them. I think I acquired the last letter the day after the last day of school. It was easier to gather the pictures because many of them were the ones that I took, so they were already on hand. All in all, it took about 2-1/2 to 3 months to collect everything.
Q: Did you build the book in segments?
A: Yes. It came together a little bit at a time. The work I did one day would give me a feel for what I was going to do the next day. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to make sure I had all of the events, in order, from the beginning of the school year to the end.
Q: How long did it take you to actually build the book?
A: Okay, this is embarrassing…I finished the book in December 2009! It was a project that was MUCH bigger than I thought! Of course, I don’t think it would have taken as long if I didn’t switch companies (yes, I was using a different company initially). I had to restart the book twice. When I say “restart,” I mean from PAGE 1! The first time was when I switched from the other company (to Lifephoto.com) and the second time was because my computer died and I ended up losing EVERYTHING, even though it was saved! Lifephoto offered me a lot more in terms of page set-ups, photo sizes, fonts, etc.
Q: Any comments from other parents after seeing the book? How about the teacher?
A: Every parent who viewed the book thought it was “incredible.” They said they were surprised at how good it turned out. A few of the parents want to order the book! Ms. DiNoto was overwhelmed with emotion. She told me how much she loved the book and how special that class was. No one had ever done anything like this for her and she appreciated it so much. NOTE: The book was presented to her in January 2010 at a special party bringing the class and Ms. DiNoto back together.
Q: How excited were the children to participate in this project?
A: I received some of the letters the same day I asked for them, so I’d have to say there were excited…at first. After awhile, I had to keep reminding a lot of kids to write their letters. I think with so much going on towards the end of the year, they would just forget.
Q: Did you collaborate with other parents or did you build it yourself?
A: Some parents generously offered their help with the book, but because I came up with the idea, I did not want to inconvenience other parents — I know how busy things get towards the end of the school year. Some parents sent me pictures of their child that I was excited to incorporate into the book. One parent in particular provided many photos of the children from the school year that I didn’t have and was very grateful for her contribution. By the way, every parent generously contributed toward the cost of the book. And they actually thanked me for doing the gift which made me feel better — I didn’t want anyone to feel like I was pushing the book on them.
Q: The book is creatively put together — the way you varied the page colors and styles, the photos and the children’s messages. Do you have a creative background?
A: I do not have any creative talent! I’ve done some scrapbooking here and there, but never completed a full album! I cannot draw to save my soul.
Q: Do you think anyone can accomplish the same kind of book with the Lifephoto book-building software?
A: With Lifephoto’s site and some time, this book is definitely something that can be accomplished.
Q: Were you pleased with the book build process? Are you happy with how the book turned out?
A: I was pleased with the book building process. I was able to accomplish the look I wanted with the options offered. I could call them (Lifephoto customer service reps) any time I needed help and someone was always willing to assist me. They even viewed the book with me over the phone before I submitted it! I was very happy with the way the book turned out. I know it sounds weird, but it impressed me most that the inside of the cover was lined and that there was a piece of parchment paper before the first page. I was hoping the book would have that kind of quality. I was elated when I saw the finished product!
Q: How did you hear of Lifephoto?
A: Through my research, I found Lifephoto’s Web site on the Internet. Never hearing of Lifephoto before, I was a bit skeptical. But when I learned they also operate Apollo Imagizing, which deals only with professional photographers, I knew I was in the right place. The site is easy to use; the quality of the products is outstanding and the staff is terrific!