Debut Author Peggy Mastel Chronicles Her Unexpected Year as a Substitute Teacher in New Memoir, “Recess Is My Best Subject.”
Peggy Mastel’s debut memoir, Recess Is My Best Subject, is available from Fergus Publishing. Arriving in the midst of the ever-evolving debate on public education, the book chronicles her unexpected year as a substitute teacher in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, following the death of her son.
Sioux Falls, SD – Peggy Mastel’s debut memoir, Recess Is My Best Subject, chronicling her unexpected year as a substitute teacher in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is from Fergus Publishing. Mastel, a storyteller whose background varies from corporate training to broadcast news reporting, addresses important education-related topics—from parenting to teaching—while posing the deeper question: What can we do to help our schools thrive?
Mastel is no stranger to the needs of children, nor is she a stranger to the fact that such needs aren’t always met. In 2006, her thirteen-year-old son, Ian, had a sudden allergic reaction to an antibiotic and lost his life. It was the worst of family tragedies, and Mastel’s descent into grief caused the unraveling of her corporate training consultancy, making it necessary for her to seek work in unexpected places. What presented itself was the most difficult job she would ever have: substitute teaching in the twenty-four public schools of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Shocked by the level of poverty in the district, the number of children with special needs, and the reality of today’s teaching world, she stumbled through the year, barely holding it together.
“At first, I wondered what I could possibly gain from this experience,” Mastel says. “I was fifty-six years old, struggling with osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, and barely able to keep up with the job. But one day, I was walking in the woods with my dogs, feeling way too sorry for myself, when the thought came to me out of nowhere. Write a book. After that, I started taking copious notes, and I realized that my experience might actually make a difference.”
Recess Is My Best Subject provides a unique look into schools in the middle of America’s heartland. Mastel’s status as a substitute teacher meant she was able to observe a wide variation of teaching environments, from Cluster Classrooms in the inner city to fringe schools that required parent involvement in the teaching process. What she saw inspired her to enact change. “I don’t want to be the only one who benefits from Recess Is My Best Subject,” Mastel says. “I think most readers will be surprised by the neediness in our schools and may be moved to bring about changes, even on a small scale.”
That said, there is no shortage of tenderness and humor in Recess Is My Best Subject. Whether it’s Mastel’s own dry reactions to places like Suspension Rooms or tears she had to hide when seeing children dealing with extremely difficult life conditions, the book packs an emotional punch. “This is my story,” Mastel says. “Now, it’s yours, too.”
About the book: Recess Is My Best Subject by Peggy Mastel ISBN: 978-0989770101 Publisher: Fergus Books Date of publish: November 2013 Pages: 334 S.R.P.: $14.00
About the author: Peggy Mastel lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and is currently working on her second book, a novel. Recess Is My Best Subject is available now wherever books are sold.