Local author raises money for Grand River Hospital Foundation

By Karis Mapp

It was two years ago, during the early days of the pandemic, that Jenny Ohrling was looking for a way to motivate her students. She is a Grade 2 teacher at Brigadoon Public School in Kitchener. 

Her students were working from home and Ohrling got the idea for them to help her put a book together. 

She explained on the Mike Farwell Show on CityNews 570 that it really was her students that motivated her to write 'When We Go Back to School'.

“I began to realize that it was the little things that my students were missing,” she said. “Things like standing in line, riding the bus and raising their hand. That's where my inspiration came from.”

Along with the help of her daughter, Grace, the book was printed locally and used to help raise funds for the Grand River Hospital Foundations. The illustrations for the children's book were done by her students and Ohrling took care of the text. 

“As an educator, we're always motivated by our students,” said Ohrling. “We all got sent home in March of 2020 and we were just told to send some asynchronous work to our students to try and keep everyone inspired. I was inspired to try and help them determine a way to be helpers in the world with this little project that turned into a bigger one.”

'When We Go Back to School' is about coping with COVID-19 and going back to school. 

The initial goal for the book was to sell 100 copies, but over 500 were sold. 

Ohrling said she has a couple of copies left to sell but added that there is a live reading of the story book on her Instagram account.

Despite the success of this book, she already has her next book in the works.

“I've been writing it in my head for about five years now. It's based on a true story about my daughter, who is a synchronized swimmer but she is generally a little bit clumsy. The story is told from the point of view of her brother. He has a clumsy sister yet he starts to realize that she's a decorated artistic swimmer. He's trying to figure what she is, if she's not a land mammal. Which is why the book is called 'Gracie's Not a Land Mammal'.”

That book is finished being written and has been submitted to publishers.

“I know that the traditional publishing route is a tricky one and it could take months or even years to get something like that published but I'm going for it,” said Ohrling. “I turned 50 in 2019 and it's time to try and reach some goals and use that creative space.”

She also went on a writing retreat earlier this year in New Brunswick which inspired her to continue to write. 

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