Nurturing a love of writing from an early age, freshman Kellah Jarvis published a novel before she ever arrived at East Carolina University. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

ECU freshman published at 16

By Rachel Castro
ECU News Services

Many elementary and middle school teachers use children’s books as guides and assigned reading for their students, but one East Carolina University freshman Teaching Fellow arrived having written her own.

Kellah Jarvis, a 19-year-old from Knightdale and a new addition to the Pirate community this fall, became a published children’s book author in 2009, at only 16.

“Miss Kathy Sailon,” a book idea that Jarvis initially conceptualized in the second grade, slowly began coming to life during her free writing sessions throughout the years. Jarvis worked on other stories as well, but it was this story in particular that caught the eye of publishers in August of 2009.
The childrens' book Jarvis wrote sprang from an idea she had in second grade.

Jarvis, an aspiring middle education teacher with a concentration in language arts and mathematics, began writing as a young girl, honing her writing skills in writing workshops and in free writing sessions during her classes.

“My biggest inspirations for writing this book were school, my teachers and especially my mother,” said Jarvis.

Jarvis’s mother, Jaimi, a writer herself, used to sit with Jarvis and write with her. Upon noticing her daughter’s talent and ambition to write, Jarvis’s mother began researching publishing companies to see if one of them was willing to look at one of her daughter’s manuscripts.

After sending three unfinished manuscripts, Jarvis and her mother heard back from Tate Publishing, a family owned Christian-based publishing company in Oklahoma, and in the spring of her freshman year of high school, Jarvis began the publishing process.

“Miss Kathy Sailon” is about an unruly kindergartener, who despite getting into her fair share of trouble, learns important life lessons along the way. Jarvis did not pull from personal experience.

“I like writing fiction and being able to use my imagination when I write. I wanted to write about someone completely different from me,” she said of the 140-page juvenile fiction book’s protagonist, Kathy.

After working with illustrators and attending book signings, Kellah can still say with conviction what the most rewarding part of the publishing process was for her. “Holding the book and seeing the cover with my name on it was my favorite part of the whole process,” she said.

“Miss Kathy Sailon” is available on the Barnes and Noble web site, and is in stock at their Raleigh locations. The Tate Publishing website also sells copies of the book.

Jarvis hopes to continue fostering her love of writing through teaching language arts and has even considered writing another book, she said.

The N.C. Teaching Fellow program is a competitive scholarship program intended for high school seniors intent on studying to become teachers. Seventeen campuses statewide are supporters of the program. Qualified seniors have to undergo an extensive application process including two interviews. The average N.C. Teaching fellow has an SAT score of over 1100, a high school GPA of a 4.0 or above and is in the top 10 percent of his or her graduating class.


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