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A county teacher for more than two decades, author Melissa Pyrch just released a guide for students facing uncertainties before and after graduation.
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With more than twenty years educating high school students, first in Port Chester and then Somers, Melissa Pyrch learned quite a bit about the uncertainties young people face upon graduation. While Pyrch initially tried her hand at a young adult novel after earning a graduate degree from Manhattanville College, she eventually found inspiration for her first published book much closer to home.
“I knew that I would be writing and I loved working with teenagers. I definitely landed in the right profession,” says the East Fishkill-based author of her teaching career. “My passion for writing this particular book came out of that love for my students and all the advice that I found myself giving them throughout the years.”
Beyond the Bell offers twelve germane lessons structured to guide young people on a path to success, from college applications to post-graduation difficulties. “The book, I hope, is a companion for a graduate — a high school graduate, or even a college graduate,” says Pyrch. “The book is not really telling them how to do it, but more so riding alongside kids in their journeys and giving them the tools that they need to realize everything that they are experiencing is common and that they will figure it out.”
Pyrch notes that she structured the book’s twelve lessons to take young readers on a chronological walk through the process of graduation. “Really, it’s a coming-of-age, personal growth book,” she says.
Beyond the Bell is chock full of humorous and meaningful stories, interesting asides, and valuable tidbits of advice. “A lot of the content came from the stories I found myself telling year after year after year to my students,” says Pyrch. “One of the first stories in the book — about going to a college counselor to find out what I should do in terms of a major and being told, ‘a funeral director’ — was always one of the first stories I told my students because it made them laugh but also calmed them down. I was just as clueless as they were at 17 years old about what I was going to do with my future. I think most people have that story, but most people don’t talk about that uncertainty and that fear they experience after high school graduation and sometimes even after college graduation.”
Inspired by Beyond the Bell’s reception, Pyrch has already begun work on her following tome. “I always thought my next book would be for parents, which would extend the note to parents at the back of [Beyond the Bell]. But I am finding as I am starting to draft another book that what is most interesting to readers is how people can chase their dreams even when they have so much that has to get done and so many responsibilities,” says Pyrch. “Parents reach out to me all the time asking, ‘How do you teach full-time, even with your three kids and your husband being a first responder?’ So, I am learning that the next project for me might be a personal growth book for young adults and adults to navigate and find their path.”
Beyond the Bell
By Melissa Pyrch; G&D Media (2022)
230 pages (pbk, kindle)