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Bridgeport student qualifies for TAFE national competition in Orlando

STUDENT STORYTELLER — Bridgeport High School senior Jadyn McCoy is headed to TAFE national competition for the second consecutive year.

After placing in the top 10 of children’s literature pre-k at the Texas Association of Future Educators (TAFE) state competition, Bridgeport High School senior Jadyn McCoy qualified for this summer’s national competition in Orlando.

McCoy authored and illustrated her book “Milo & Friends: Am I Special Too?” which details a young monkey who does not feel special compared to his many animal friends, but by the end of the book, heeds advice from his mother and friends to not compare himself to others.

“I did the children’s literature because I’ve always been pretty artistic – drawing, painting, water color, all of those kinds of things – and I love writing,” McCoy said. “I knew it would be hard, because obviously writing a book takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s so rewarding at the end being able to actually read a book I wrote.”

McCoy started the process of writing her book last September and began with choosing the message that she wanted her book to convey. She then chose the characters, planned out the details of each page and wrote the story. After a series of grammar and spelling checks, McCoy began the process of illustrating the book.

“Illustrating it was probably the longest part, especially because this year I decided to include interactive pieces in the book,” McCoy said. “It took me like three months to finish everything, and on the last day of working on it, I stayed up until 3 a.m. just waiting for the mod podge to dry so I could look at it.”

“When I was able to flip through all of the pages and move all the pieces, I thought, ‘Wow, I really did this? I really just wrote that?’”

BHS Outdoor Adventures teacher and TAFE sponsor Clint Smith said that he knew McCoy had the potential to qualify for nationals after seeing her finished product. “I fully expected her to make it to nationals this year,” he said. “What she did this year compared to her book from last year – it was really a step up. It’s always fun watching her get excited about the work she does.”

McCoy is building on the success that she achieved at last year’s competitions, where she placed first at state and made a trip to nationals. This year, she’s using last year’s experience as motivation.

“Last year, I got first place at state and I expected to get top 10 at nationals, but sadly that didn’t happen. It was honestly really hard for me,” McCoy said. “I was able to learn that the judging criteria for [children’s literature] is very hard, and it has just fueled me to want to do even better and push myself more.”

Although McCoy plans to go to nursing school at The University of Texas at Tyler, she believes that the hard work she’s put into TAFE competitions will translate to a career outside of the education field.
 “‘I’ve learned that if I put hard work and effort into something, it will be worth it when I see the final product,” she said. “So with nursing school, I know that when it gets tough I’ll be able to persevere through it.”

McCoy also explained that through TAFE and writing her books, she’s learned how children think and process things differently than adults, how to be a better leader, how to communicate with different age groups and the value of serving the community, all of which she said will help prepare her for a nursing career.

Smith said that he’s enjoyed watching McCoy find high levels of success, especially with his knowledge of how much effort she’s put into TAFE and the competitions she’s attended. “When you see a kid who just works her tail off for something, and get recognized like Jadyn has, it makes everything all more worth it,” Smith said. “Just to be able to see her work toward something and come up with a quality product is rewarding enough.”

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