In a book that was released in late 2020, longtime Escalon educator – now retired – Jerry Emery has put together a study in middle school maturity.
Or more appropriately, the lack thereof, especially when it comes to seventh grade boys.
Spending time in his career at schools near Firebaugh, in Glenn County, at Lassen High School and Susanville Middle School, among others, Emery also spent eight years with the county Office of Education and worked at El Portal Middle School in Escalon for 10 years, including time as its principal.
“None of the bullies are from Escalon,” Emery was quick to point out about the book, which does detail some episodes of bullying that he dealt with at different stages in his career.
He wrote the book under the pen name Russell C. Morrow but opted to let readers know he is the actual author, having written the book mostly while spending long days in chemotherapy during his cancer treatment.
The book’s title – There Is No Lower Human Life Form Than An Immature 7th Grade Boy – refers to the tough years in between childhood and adulthood and the often ‘here and now’ thinking mentality displayed at that age.
“It’s a phrase or sentence I’ve used often,” Emery said, adding that he and fellow educators, along with parents of that age group, have often wondered “what on earth were you thinking?”
He said the book was written in an attempt to answer that question, in dealing with immature boys, and is also somewhat autobiographical in nature, with many examples from his own childhood escapades and rash decisions.
The book, with 17 chapters and an epilogue, is over 100 pages and was published in mid-November 2020 by AuthorHouse out of Bloomington, Indiana.
“I golf with a friend who has published five or six books through them,” Emery explained. “It can be a long process and you’re pretty much editing as you go.”
He did work with a couple of different editors on the book and though it was a lengthy and often tough process, he is glad to have the published product in hand.
“It wasn’t anything that I really thought someday I would do,” he admitted.
But long days in cancer treatment afforded him time to think, and that in turn brought plenty of stories to the forefront, stories that he hoped would form a sort of ‘instruction manual’ or at least a guide to help others understand the workings of the seventh grade brain.
Working on his first book and seeing it through to completion, however, did spark the literary flame.
“I’m already planning a second, a novel, I think,” Emery shared.
As far as names and incidents in the book, they are often amalgamations of kids he worked with, helping to illustrate certain points and behavioral issues at the middle school level.
Emery began his educational career in 1970, first working in a migrant education program between Firebaugh and Dos Palos.
He also served as a counselor as well as a teacher and coached different sports during his long career before getting into administration. He joined the staff at El Portal in 1991.
Most of his 38 years in the education field were at the middle school level.
Emery was able to convince a longtime friend to do the illustrations and the book is for sale on both the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites.
“It is kind of autobiographical but I didn’t intend it to be that way,” added Emery.
But it was remembering the question of many students at the middle school level – “How do you always know what we’re doing?” – that convinced Emery that sharing a few of his own middle school capers would help the readers understand how he knew, since he did the same things at that age.
He said working on the book while undergoing chemotherapy helped him keep his focus and he plans to take the book back to the crew at Kaiser Modesto that was with him throughout his cancer treatment.
“There’s a lot of therapeutic value,” Emery said of putting pen to paper, adding that though the self-publishing route isn’t for everyone, it did work well for him.
Now, he hopes to follow up with book number two.
“I haven’t put a genre to it yet,” he said of the in-the-planning-stages novel. “I’m not sure where that journey’s going to take me yet.”