Donna: Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview with you. We both just love your website. You offer such a refreshing and inspiring view of the world.


1. Did you write stories when you were growing up? at school? Or at home. As a hobby? As a young child, or as a teenager, or both?

Donna: I did write as a child. I began when I was still in elementary school copying my favorite poems and story passages into a spiral notebook that I took everywhere. And I committed these passages to memory. Even today, 40 years later, these memorized passages spring to mind at unexpected moments. In middle school, I moved from copying and memorizing, to mimicking in my own writing what I liked in the writing of others. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was doing what all writers do – I was journaling. I began making my own observations about people or places or events that moved me, and I wrote about them, learning to use words to evoke feelings in others. To this day I journal. Sometimes it is random thoughts. Sometimes I journal to respond to a moving homily I hear at church, or to an article I read in the newspaper, a beautiful sunset, or any other topic that moves me.

Rosemarie: I was an ardent fan of Lois Lane and Brenda Starr. I wanted nothing more than to be a newspaper reporter! My

friend and I used to make up stories to write. I was paid for an anecdote published in Readers Digest when I was 12 years old and thought I had made the big time. I submitted two more anecdotes and never heard back, so I stopped submitting. While I was in Nursing School I wrote the majority of our yearbook, putting a short, descriptive poem under each picture and a narrative synopsis of our three years at school. Then as a new mom, I amused myself by writing humorous poems about things I didn’t like to do or if I had a cold–ie. An Ode to Dirty Dishes

and A Code in da Node.

2. When you were a child did you ever have moments when you decided that you were going to be a writer when you grew up?

Donna: I can’t say there was a single moment when it occurred to me that I could be a writer. I know that by the time I was in high school I was writing plays and stories and poems, and I hoped to go to college to learn to

write. It was an evolving dream of mine. More a passion. First was the need to write. It was later, after college, that the desire was born to have my writing read by a wider audience than my family and friends – hence the journey into the world of publishing.

3. How do you choose the topics for your books? What’s your age range?

Rosemarie: The topics for our books were chosen because we both had a need to say what we felt. Our first book, Little Acts of Grace, was written for preschool children as a result of our desire to afford children of today the comfort of knowing, believing in and praising God. Donna wanted to share her thoughts about Mary, the mother of Jesus. So we wrote Just Like Mary, also for very young children. Our third book, The Mass Book, was a suggestion from the publisher and targeted second graders.

Donna: When Rosemarie and I began writing together, our grandchildren were in preschool. Our books have grown up with our grandkids. As for how we choose what to write, sometimes I think our topics choose us. Rosemarie and I are co authors, but our third partner is God. We truly feel our topics are inspired by Him.

4. What kinds of things inspire you to write?

Rosemarie: Love inspires me to write. I write about people I love, people who love, and the places and memories I love. I am inspired by the joys and sorrows of everyday life.

5. What gave you the idea for your very first book?

Rosemarie: Donna and I met by accident–or Divine intervention– at a church dinner. We had each been on a Pilgrimage, compared notes and soon found that we had very similar thoughts and a desire to write from the heart. We talked about little things we did as children. In spite of the difference in our ages, our memories, beliefs and feelings were so very similar. So, we wrote about how little actions displaying love for God would please Him just as little acts of love and kindness please people. And–we went on from there to create a series of books for children.

6. Have any of your books earned special recognition?

Donna: Our 4th book, Living the 10 Commandments for Children, won 2nd place in the children’s category for the 2008 North American Catholic Press Association. That was a real thrill for us.

Rosemarie: This same book has also been printed in Lithuanian at the request of a priest who enjoyed it while in America!

7. Have any of your stories been inspired by real people or events? What inspires you to write?

Rosemarie: Most everything I write is inspired by real people or shared life experiences. I notice that in Donna’s work also. Her love and compassion shines through her words. The book she is self publishing at this time emphasizes pre teens respecting and caring about others —social justice. Icky, CeCe and the Mysterious Mr. Thuan is due to be released at the end of November.

8. Do you work on more than one book at a time?

Donna: I think this is sometimes one of our strengths, and a potential pitfall. While Rosemarie is a focused writer, I tend to work on more than one topic at a time. As a result, I am slower in brining any one project to fruition. I tend to write in response to an inner calling. Rosemarie is the disciplined one.

Rosemarie: Donna and I get a chuckle out of the fact that our Myers-Briggs Type Indicator results are on target. I seek closure on each project before beginning another. Donna is comfortable beginning several projects. I believe we complement each other with these opposite characteristics. I speed her up on each project and she slows me down to make sure our words are what we really want to say.

9. Which of your books did you most enjoy writing?

Rosemarie: It’s a tossup between The Beatitudes for Children and The 10 Commandments for Children. I learned a lot as we wrote about current life in relation to God’s teachings. My favorite adult piece was the story of the unexpected death of my granddaughter on the day my son came home from the Gulf war. That writing was therapeutic and helped me resolve her death. It took 2 years to write.

Donna: For me, my favorite book it is definitely Just Like Mary. Written for preschool aged

children, this book helped me answer a question from when I was a little girl. I was always told that Mary, the mother of God, is to be my role model. I couldn’t understand how to do that. But writing this book helped me answer how we all can be just like Mary.

10. What are you working on now?Donna: We have a couple of projects we are working on. We have two children’s books: one on Purgatory, and one on Priests. I am working on a series of middle grade novels. And we are experimenting with developing one of our books as an animated book for an ipad.

11. Are you signed exclusively with a publisher? Are you self published and how does that work for you?

Donna: We have not signed exclusively with any one publisher, but to date, all of our children’s books have been published by Our Sunday Visitor. That has been a wonderful relationship we hope will continue. I am also currently working on self publishing my middle grade novels. I am working on a series of 4 middle grade novels, each one which addresses a different issue related to social justice: homelessness, the plight of the refugee, etc. These books will appeal to that segment of our population who embraces conservative values. As you know, this is a small, niche market. So I have ventured into the realm of self publishing. I am working with an editor who has some experience in this area and feel confident this is a plausible way to go. With the help of social networking, Amazon and e-bay, marketing the books has become, while not easy, certainly possible.


12. Do you do school visits, if so what question do children ask you most?

Rosemarie: I love doing school visits! Last year I read to a pre-school in Northern Virginia and had a wonderful time with 4 year olds. Last week, I read snippets from Little Acts of Grace 2 to the Kindergarten and 1st grade classes. They were a great audience, wanting to participate as well as listen. I also read A Really Scary Time to 3rd and 4th graders. We sang the World War ll songs from the book. Donna and I have had opportunities to speak to children and their parents at PTO meetings in the public school and at a Military base. We both enjoy talking to adults and to children.

Donna Piscitelli lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband Steve. They have four children and ten grandchildren. Donna has been writing and publishing children’s books for ten years, and is currently working on publishing her first middle grade novel. She has worked in the field of education for 32 years and has been a teacher, a counselor and an adminstrator. Donna and Steve are both active in their church.

Rosemarie Gortler lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with her husband Fred. They have five children and seventeen grandchildren. Rosemarie has been a nurse and a clinical counselor. She and Fred are active in their church.
Your may find Piscitelli and Gortier’s books on Amazon by clicking here.

School has been in session now for several months.  Students are busy learning their ABC’s, new vocabulary words, writing skills and math skills.  Teachers are busy assessing each student’s progress by observing learning styles and test results.  Inevitably questions must be asked of every student’s ability and achievements, including:

Are they at grade level?

Are they mastering new techniques for learning?

Are they understanding and comprehending new material?

Perhaps your child is performing well in most subjects.  But, if you’re like the majority of parents, your child is behind in one or more subjects or could use a little “refreshing” of concepts and applications.   If your little star is to succeed and keep up with their classmates (and California State Standards) it may be time to consider getting some extra help.

There are several resources available to parents who wish to improve their child’s skills in learning new material (or re-learning older material).  Learning centers such as Sylvan, Huntington and Mathnasium are most likely in your neighborhood or within a short driving distance.  They typically charge by the hour and usually recommend lots of sessions, depending on what your child needs help with. You can also buy “packages” of sessions at a discount so don’t be afraid to ask about this option.

Learning centers may want to test your child before recommending a tutoring package.  There are fees associated with these tests in addition to the tutoring fees.  I have a simple rule when considering utilizing learning centers: do your own homework and research and ask questions.  Go and visit a learning center in your area.  Ask if you can just observe for a half-hour or so.  Check online (just Google the name of the learning center), ask other parents, ask teachers – the more information you have the better!

While most learning centers advertise the “one-on-one” tutoring benefit, don’t be surprised to see a classroom setting in the center. There may be single desks or workstations.  Students may receive some “one-on-one” tutoring and also receive small group tutoring.  Both of these can work for your child if they’re able to focus.  There will be distractions from other students working with other tutors, people coming and going in and out of the centers, and books and papers being ruffled.  For some students these stimuli simply aren’t a bother.  But for others they can be a huge distraction.

Another resource for struggling students (and their parents) is the private tutor.  Private tutors may work for tutoring companies or be self-employed.  They typically meet students in the student’s home or public place, such as a library.   They may be high-school or college students or even a certified teacher earning some extra money.  Finding and hiring a private tutor is not difficult.  However you want to be proactive and, just like working with learning center tutors, you want to do your own research and ask questions.

The tutoring industry has exploded in the last 5 – 10 years.  One of the causes of this growth has been the No Child Left Behind Act that was passed into law in 2002.  In simple terms the NCLB Act requires any school that receives federal funds to meet standardized testing scores in order to continue receiving those funds.   Within the parameters of meeting these “standards” is the opportunity for students of a struggling school to receive free tutoring.  With so many struggling schools required to offer free tutoring to its students, a multitude of tutors was needed.  This spurred the growth of Supplemental Education Service providers, companies set-up to specifically tutor under the NCLB Act.   It is these companies that desperately needed tutors.  As with any industry there are some great SES providers and some not-so-great providers.

Hiring a private tutor (outside of the SES provider route) is an easy process – if you take the time to do a little research.  Ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations.  A simple Google search of “tutor” will produce lots of prospects.  Visit each company’s website.   Do they specialize in a specific subject?  Do they offer one-on-one tutoring or group tutoring?  Do they come to your house? How do they hire their tutors?  What qualifications are important to you?  By the way, it’s not important that the tutor has a doctorate degree or a master’s degree.  There are plenty of wonderful tutors out there without these credentials.  You also don’t need a tutor from an Ivy League school.  Having a doctorate from a prestigious school doesn’t necessarily translate into a great tutor for your child.

Whether you choose a learning center, an SES provider, or a private tutor it’s important to be involved.  Do your homework and ask questions.  Be prepared to discuss money too (unless you’re hiring an SES provider as they are paid by the SES companies directly). You’ll find a whole range of hourly rates – averaging from $20 to $100 per hour.   You’ll need to pre-determine your budget, planning for at least one tutoring session per week at minimum.  You should also think about how long each session should be and how many weeks or months you would like your child to be tutored.  For children under the age of 8 years I recommend sessions of 30 minutes to an hour;  for children older than 8 up to 1 ½ hours.  You will need to monitor sessions to see how your child is doing and when he/she is losing their focus.  You’ll know when it’s time to stop.

So what should you look for when you hire a tutor?  The goal is to help your child improve their understanding and knowledge.  Obviously you want someone who knows and understands the material to be tutored.  However, you want more than someone who can add numbers together or spell a word or write a sentence.  You want someone who can teach these things to your child.  It’s one thing to know how to do something; it’s quite another to know how to teach it.   That requires an understanding of how we learn.  The ancient Greek philosopher, scientist and physician said it best, “Those that know, do.  Those that understand, teach.”  Look for a tutor who “connects” with your child.   You may have to try a few tutors before finding the right fit.  It will be worth it, however, in the long run.  Your child will feel more confident, increase his/her self-esteem and excel at school.  Tutoring is an investment, and every investment requires its own due diligence.

Tim Hall lives in Los Angeles and is a tutor who works with children and students of all ages (1st – 12th grade).  He is CBEST certified and is pursuing his Math Education degree and credentials. For more information on Tim or if you have any tutoring questions,  you may contact him at [email protected].


Voorhees, New Jersey – Leddy Naudain, owner and administrator of the Naudain Academy, now in it’s 35th school year, has always been one step ahead of how to change children’s lives. Her daughter Lauren follows in her footsteps as a co-administator who thinks outside the box.  So it was no surprise that the Naudain Academy, where peace education has been a mainstay for students for many years, decided to introduce  the YOUNG MASTERS LITTLE WISDOM DISCOVERY PROGRAM to it’s  extended Day (Kindergarten) students.  What is a Young Master?  Read on and find out about this incredible program that teaches core values and life skills to children 4-8.


Stephanie Pelly who teaches this self-discovery program in the New Jersey area, conducted the first of thirteen classes this week, by asking the children what they thought a Young Master was.   “Someone who shares, a person who is peaceful, someone who does karate or ballet,  a person who is loving and someone who helps others,” were some of the answers.  One little girl asked, “Are you going to teach us how to care for ourselves and others?”  “All great answers”, Stephanie commented and then went on to explain.”We’re all born with special gifts that we can share with others, “said Stephanie,  “these gifts are not necessarily presents that you give to people that you buy from a store, but rather gifts that you can share from your heart –  they’re the secrets of the heart.  A Young Master is you!,” she said, “learning how to use those gifts.”  The children were fascinated.


During the 13 week program, that spreads across the 2011-2012 school year, they will discover six different Secrets of the Heart. There is one book, chocked full with music and story for each secret.  Stephanie  asked the students if they would like to discover the first Secret of the Heart.  With great enthusiasm they all screamed YES and from her little red treasure bag, she pulled out our first secret – FRIENDSHIP!  The children were very excited.


Before they read the story, she shared the Young Masters Pledge with them and they repeated after her , “I promise to use my gifts every day, in every way, for I am a Young Master!”  This group of 24 students were fast learners and proudly said the pledge a second time holding up their peace fingers as they spun around smiling and standing proud.


Stephanie then introduced the first book in the series YOUNG MASTERS – The Friendship Seed.  She explained how Bunny Hull, the author used her imagination to create characters like Buttan, EEtha and Phlyos for the stories.  The children listened carefully to the words of the story and learned that a smile is like a “friendship seed” they can share with anyone, anytime. They talked about how friendship grows when you share a smile or kind words with a friend.  One child said, “You can plant a Friendship Seed when you ask a friend to play with you.” “So right,” said Stephanie.


Naudain Academy – The Young Masters Little Wisdom Discovery Program

They talked about how they’re all connected.  They took turns saying “I am a good friend because… ” and they each shared their own unique answer.  Some children stood up and said, “because I respect others, because I am helpful, because I share.” They giggled as they talked about caring for their friends, making others laugh and being kind.  Concepts of friendship were taking root.


Stephanie pointed out to the children that on the work mat she had a stone statue called the circle of friends.  They listened to words of the music on the books CD as  together they made a a circle of friendship and each child took a turn standing up in a circle and sharing their wonderful affirmations about friendship.  They took turns connecting fingers together with the person next to them and they held hands.  The children were asked to think about what it meant to be a good friend and to notice the differences in each other. “Do all friends look alike and act the same?” asked Stephanie. “Friends look different, they have beautiful different color skin, they may like different things, a different sport, or different game, but they’re still great friends.”


They created a friendship chain together where each child took two pieces of colored paper cut in strips and wrote their name and what makes them a good friend.  They connected their chain of answers, words like helpful, kind, share and play together.  Their understanding was growing. At the end they talked about how the friendship chain has many different colors. The colors can represent the differences in friends like, the different likes we may have or different talents. It was clear the children liked this idea.  Their friendship chain will hang on their holiday tree for the next month.  They were encouraged to create a friendship chain at home with their families.

A deep exploration of friendship for children, designed to teach them that they are each Young Masters with many gifts to share…the secrets of the heart.  This is no doubt a highlight for the children at Naudain Academy.   They closed with the Young Masters Pledge.

Next workshop the children receive their YOUNG MASTERS JOURNALS to chart the course of their discovery.    Stay tuned.

Visit Naudain Academy and find out how their making a difference in children’s lives.


Voorhees, New Jersey – The children of Naudain Academy have been enjoying the Young Masters Little Wisdom Discovery Program every other week since November. Their mission has been to learn and practice the Secrets of The Heart based on the Young Masters Little Wisdom books. This past week they learned about the final secret in the first series – love.

The program began with the class saying the Young Masters Pledge together. “I promise to use my gifts everyday, in everyway, for I am a Young Master. PEACE!” “By now the children have learned they do indeed have gifts to share with the world, ” said Ms. Stephanie, “and that’s why they’re Young Masters.”

After the pledge, the children listened to Ms. Stephanie, the program facilitator as she read Young Masters:  This Little Light.  “In this storybook, the children learn the many ways love is shared with people, animals and the earth.”  The story was followed by an activity to demonstrate the power of love.  The activity is called A DROP OF LOVE. In a glass bowl filled with water, Ms. Stephanie  placed a small earth globe.  One at a time, each child took a turn and using an eye dropper filled with colored water placed a drop of love around the globe.  As they shared something they love about themselves, others or the world around them they all saw how the love they had to give helped color the world with love.   “One drop of love makes a difference in the world,” said Ms. Stephanie.  Each child had a turn as ideas like “I love my family and friends, I love my teachers, I love my dog, I love flowers and I love music,” were expressed.

After completing the activity the children created “heartprints”, this was an art project to share with someone they love.  As  they listened to music from the Young Masters:  This Little Light CD, each child decorated four “heartprints” and added their own very special thumbprint to make the shape of a heart.  As they placed their thumbprints on the hearts Ms. Stephanie told them “there is no one in the whole world that has a thumbprint like you and there’s no one in the world exactly like you.  You are unique! And the way you give your love is unique.”   On the reverse side of the “heartprint” children wrote messages like “I love you” or “I love playing with you.” Some children wrote words like “kindness” and “share.”  The children were asked to share their love by giving a “heartprint” away to a classmate, family member, teacher or neighbor. “Sharing love is making someone else feel special,” said Ms. Stephanie, “that’s how you shine your light. That’s what Butaan, Phylos and EEtha talk about in the book.”  “I love hearing the children sing along with the CD while they’re creating,” said Ms. Stephanie. “Music adds so much to a learning experience…music makes learning joyful.”

As their time together came all too quickly to an end, the students repeated the Young Masters pledge one last time and were encouraged to try making heartprints out of clay at home to share with friends or family members.

“Young Masters…learning to make the world a better place.  I love my work,” said Ms. Stephanie. Stay tuned for the next adventure in learning with the Young Masters Little Wisdom Discovery program.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can use this program in your school.

Stephanie Pelly is a peace educator and co-creator of the Young Masters Little Wisdom Discovery Program for children and teaches this program and others in and around New Jersey.

Click here to make a difference in the lives of children 4-8 in your world.

Curriculum is still available for free.

Naudain Academy is a Montessori school in Voorhees, New Jersey.

Vorhees, New Jersey – The Young Masters Discovery Program at Naudain Academy concluded last week. The extended day children proudly wore the headdresses they created as they received their certificates and shared what they had learned with their friends – the Secrets Of The Heart

During the final celebration each Young Master held the microphone and had a turn reciting the Young Masters Pledge.  Confidently each stepped forward to say what they now seemed to believe about themselves and…they appeared to know what that meant.  “I promise to use my gifts everyday, in everyway for I am a Young Master.”

Children were quick to answer what their favorite Secret of the Heart was and why and Stephanie gently probed them with questions to find out what stories and lessons resonated most with them.  Some children loved using their “creativity” and “imagination” during the program, some children said “friendship” and “love” were their favorites.  A number of children talked about “courage” being their favorite “secret”, because they learned to face their fears and a handful of students liked “gratitude” best!  Stephanie reminded them that all of the “secrets” are important to practice.

Wearing their colorful Young Master headdresses, each student received their certificate of completion.  Something they could hang on their wall at home to remind them what they had accomplished, and they would now bring home the Young Master Journals that they had spent class time creating and adding to during the year.

“Tell us something you learned during the Discovery Program?” asked Miss Stephanie.  One young boy raised his hand.  “I learned I have gifts to share,” said one Young Master. “Yes!” said Miss Stephanie.  “I am so proud of all the students of Naudain. It takes real courage for a child to stand up in front of their class and recite the Young Masters pledge all by themselves or to express their feelings about the program. I’ve witnessed a lot of growth with the children and I know they felt equally proud of themselves when they held their Young Masters certificates up for one last class photo.”

“I believe each child felt a little bit like Butaan, Phlyos or EEtha as they wore their Young Masters headdresses.  They really connected twith the characters in the books, loved the messages in the stories and wore wide smiles each time they sang the songs on the CD’s. I believe that First grade will be a little easier for these students.  They understand some very important concepts that will serve them well in the days and years ahead.

Many of the children were sad the program was over.  “Miss Stephanie, will you be at my new school?” asked one little girl. “You can take me with you in your heart,” said Stephanie.“You’re a Young Master!”

Stephanie Pelly conducts the Young Masters Little Wisdom Program at Montessori schools and centers in New Jersey.  If you’d like to schedule the program at your school, contact Stephanie Pelly at [email protected].

Naudain Academy is a Montessori School

One of L.A.’s best! Francisco Delgado is a dedicated kindergarten teacher for some very fortunate students at Leo Politi Elementary in Los Angeles, an exceptional school under the leadership of principal Brad Rumble. When Dream A World first met Mr. Delgado we were conducting our Secrets Of The Heart residency program for 105 students . His warmth, outstanding leadership skills and years of experience brought something special to our program. It didn’t take long to realize that Mr. Delgado was the kind of educator who put his heart and soul into his work – that his students really mattered to him. If we had more teachers like Mr. Delgado the world would be a better place. Thank you for being here and for all you do Mr. Delgado. We love you very much!