COMMUNITY - LEARNING TO FLY
Charlotte Magazine|October 2020
Amelia Wyatt’s picture book and quiet leadership help young immigrants see themselves in stories
ALLISON BRADEN

LA ESCUELITA SAN ALBAN was in trouble. The preschool, part of Davidson’s San Alban Episcopal Church, launched in 2014 to provide affordable, play-based learning in English and Spanish, and it’s faced an uphill battle for funding ever since. Amelia Wyatt, who is ColombianAmerican and now 18, volunteered there almost from the beginning: She helped children learn to count with chocolate chips and, on summer Fridays, had as much fun as the toddlers playing outdoor water games.

When Wyatt was in middle school, where she drew whimsical birds in the margins of her math notes, a funding shortage threatened to end La Escuelita’s preschool program. She knew how she could help. La Escuelita’s executive director, Pat Shaw, connected Wyatt with the Davidson publisher Lorimer Press, whose editor, Leslie Rindoks, helped Wyatt turn her writing and artwork into a bilingual picture book, Ozzie and the Island. Wyatt worked on the project for over two years before its publication in 2017 as the preschool managed to stay afloat. “Most people think that it’s easy because it’s simple,” Wyatt says. “But it’s actually the simplicity that makes it complex.”

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