‘The Beast Who Came to School’

West Elementary second-grader Ronin Peavy presents first comic book work to CCS Superintendent Kyle Kalloff

Ronin Peavy, author in Kelly Hayes' second grade class at West Elementary School (Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman student Ronin Peavy is a humble young writer in his second-grade class at West Elementary School. When asked if he is the latest celebrity in town, he immediately responded, “Nope. I’m just a kid.”

Peavy gained notoriety with the gift of his latest writing adventure, a comic book titled “The Beast Who Came to School,” which he gifted to Cullman City School Superintendent Kyle Kalloff.

Kalloff told the Tribune how he met the ambitious young writer.

“I met Ronin in carpool last week after school at West. He asked me if I happened to be a publisher, because he writes comic books and was looking for a publisher. Keep in mind he is in second grade. I told him I was not a publisher, but I would love to read one of his books.”

Kalloff said that what happened next surprised him.

“Two days later, Dr. Page gave me a short story he wrote and illustrated about a beast who came to school, met a friend, handled a possible bullying situation and ended up moving next door to his new friend.”

Erica Rutherford, Cullman City Schools Elementary curriculum coordinator, reflected how Peavy’s book is evidence of his teacher’s hard work.

“Student engagement is such an important part of early literacy. When students read high interest books, they are much more motivated to apply literacy skills in their writing. This is evident in Ronin’s work. Second grade literacy instruction focuses on grade level standards. Mastery of many of these standards can be found in ‘The Beast Who Came to School.’ Explaining story structure and points of view from multiple characters is an important part of second grade comprehension,” Rutherford explained.

“Ronin goes a step beyond this standard by applying these skills to writing. This is a much more challenging task and demonstrates a solid understanding of these skills. He has also applied grade level phonics and vocabulary to his writing. He is not afraid to write difficult words because he is able to use the phonics strategies, he has learned this year. Another important literacy skill is utilizing text features and illustrations to understand text. Ronin exhibits this with his lively illustrations that include dialogue, as well as the table of contents. Research tells us that if students can demonstrate learning in writing, they have truly mastered the skill. This is certainly evident in Ronin’s excellent work! It is a testament to his learning this year and the exceptional literacy instruction provided by teachers at West Elementary.”

Peavy’s teacher, Kelly Hayes, beamed when speaking of her student.

“All of his classmates are so proud of Ronin. I was impressed with his story and look forward to more. We’re all just so proud of him.”

Peavy said the experience was “pretty cool” and that the beast in his story had a good first day of school but “it didn’t go so well because homework on the first day of school makes the day bad.”

Looking to the future, Peavy informed this reporter to let her boss know that he’s available to work as a writer for the paper anytime and wants a job. We look forward to seeing him in the newsroom one day soon!

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