Spotlight on Author Jennie Ivey & Importance of Telling Your Story

Last Updated by Kate Spears on

This morning on the WCTE Get Ready To Learn radio show, join project manager Cindy Putman as she visits with special co-host local writer and published author Jennie Ivey.

Putman and Ivey discuss a recent event at Jere Whitson Elementary School where rising 3rd and 4th grade students learned about careers. We know that it’s important to help kids find out as much as they can about possible career opportunities, but the learning doesn’t stop there. Putman shared how she has continued to learn many things during her career as a classroom educator as well as in her role as Ready To Learn project manager for WCTE Upper Cumberland PBS.

During the show, the ladies also talked about Ivey’s partnership with Jere Whitson Elementary School through her church First United Methodist of Cookeville. Ivey’s church First United Methodist adopted the student body at Jere Whitson Elementary School and over the past several years she has worked closely with the students, faculty and staff.

Ivey and other volunteers from the First United Methodist church congregation offer classes and other learning opportunities to the students. Ivey and her friend Julie Burns offer many hands-on activities about nature, including one about the five common trees that are grown in Tennessee. If you’re wondering, they are the tulip poplar, maple, red bud, cedar and sweet gum. They share with the students what these trees look like, how to recognize their foliage, and the by-products that come from these trees.

As a writer, Ivey realizes that providing hands-on learning experiences for children increases their ability to view the outside world in a more positive way. Ivey also shared about the importance of writing and journaling about events that have happened in the children’s lives. She says this is an important tool to set them on the road to become a writer.

Ivy said that she realized that most writing is done from a 7th grade level. Even your average local newspaper is written on a 7th grade reading level.

Ivey has been fortunate enough to have had numerous books published and her books are available on Amazon. One book that she is particularly proud of is called Tennessee Tales the Textbooks Do Not Tell. She also talked about doing research in the Civil War era and writing about women across Tennessee, especially in the Upper Cumberland, who played a huge part in the Civil War.

Ivey also says that writing your own story can be very difficult because you have to bare your soul but telling your story in an authentic way is what draws other people to your writing. Putman and Ivey discussed teachers who have had a huge impact on their lives and they both commented about a particular teacher that read Charlotte's Web to them as a student.

Check out last week's WCTE education blog to hear Putman's story about her special teacher. Ivey's advice to young writers is to tell your own story -- don't copy what someone else has written but tell your story as honestly as you possibly can.

PBS Learning Media and PBS Parents have a wealth of great resources available for educators and parents to inspire and encourage their students or children to write. When you view the world through the eyes of a story it changes your whole concept and idea about people and places around you and far away.

Special thanks to our guest on this week’s show, Jennie Ivey. Ivey is a speaker, teacher and freelance writer who lives in Cookeville, Tennessee. She writes a weekly Sunday column for the Cookeville Herald-Citizen newspaper and is the co-author of three non-fiction books: Tennessee Tales the Textbooks Don’t Tell (The Overmountain Press, 2002), E Is For Elvis (Rutledge Hill Press, 2006) and Soldiers, Spies and Spartans: Civil War Stories from Tennessee (The Overmountain Press, 2011).

She also writes inspirational stories for Chicken Soup for the Soul, Guideposts, Angels on Earth and other publications. Jennie holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Emory University. She has worked as a schoolteacher, newspaper reporter, educational consultant, public library administrator, and for a very short time a long time ago drove a SEE THE COUNTRY MUSIC STARS’ HOMES tour bus in Nashville. She has three grown children and five adorable grandchildren.

Jennie has led teacher workshops at several school systems in Tennessee, including Clay, Grundy, Macon, Putnam, Rutherford, Trousdale, and White counties. She has been a presenter at the Southern Festival of Books, East Tennessee Historical Society, Tennessee Board of Regents, Tennessee Association of Middle Schools, Tennessee Social Studies Conference, Tennessee Association of School Librarians, Friends of Tennessee Libraries, International Reading Association, Upper Cumberland Civil War Roundtable, Putnam County Senior Citizens centers, Tennessee Council for History Education, and at numerous civic groups.

She has taught writing classes at the Putnam County Schools Summer Enrichment Program, Putnam County Library, Tennessee Mountain Writers Conference, Alabama Writers Conclave, MTSU Writers Loft, and at First United Methodist Church in Cookeville.

Contact her at or visit her website to find her books online.

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WCTE’s Educational Team can customize workshops or professional development trainings for your group or organization. For workshop information, or to inquire about scheduling a workshop, call 921-528-2222 x. 227 or email us.

Topics are listed below:

  • Using Media as a learning tool
  • Using PBS kids apps to extend learning
  • How to be your child’s first teacher
  • Sesame Street Workshops
  • How does poverty effect a child’s brain
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  • Brain Development

Workshops can be conducted in English and Spanish.