Becoming a children's book author was not Education alumna Peggy Dickerson's ’76 original intention when she retired from a 30-year career as a teacher at the Cutchogue East Elementary School in Long Island.
"I had never planned on writing a children's picture book. It came to me one night as I viewed a full moon glow outside my kitchen window,” she said.
Dickerson spent her childhood roaming the picturesque woodlands and wetlands of the North Fork of Long Island. Her days entailed holding snakes, raising raccoons, searching for spring peepers, and caring for baby squirrels until they could return to the woods.
Inspired by her upbringing filled with natural adventures, she developed curriculums highlighting the local environment and published articles on integrating local natural history into the school syllabus, before creating her first child-based literature.
"My father, Paul Stoutenburgh, was a teacher but was renowned for his knowledge and love of nature," Dickerson recalls. "I watched my parents write a nature article called ‘Focus on Nature’ every week for 50 years. They passed that passion onto me."
The beautifully illustrated children’s book Moonglow leap from her imagination, filled with a cast of creatures from her childhood. The book, along with its accompanying website, has evolved into a resource for teaching with nature at the heart of the lessons, bringing Dickerson full circle.
"The best thing Castleton ever did for me was to put me in an early involvement program that put me in an elementary school setting my very first semester. Best experience I could have had and confirmed to myself I wanted to be a teacher,” she explained. "My advice to others would be, go on the journey in front of you and never say never. It wasn't easy. I could have given up on the goal many times, so don't give up hope you never know what opportunities await you."