Students inspire Queensbury teacher to write book about resilience

Jamie Strait has always been a writer. 

“Even when I was a kid I used to write stories for fun,” said Strait, who now teaches writing to sixth graders at Queensbury Middle School. “I’ve always hadTeacher holds book in front of her. this interest in writing stories as long as I can remember. I just always tucked them away just for me.”

For the first time, the seasoned scribe is sharing her writing in the form of her first published book titled, “Last Place Lexi.” 

The book tells an inspirational story about Lexi Lexington, a girl with big dreams who ends up in last place. Lexi loses a soccer game and gets a bad grade on a school assignment. 

The book teaches kids to follow their dreams, remain resilient in the face of obstacles and believe in themselves while maintaining a positive attitude. Strait was also inspired by her 7-year-old daughter, Kinsley.

“I noticed a theme with both her and my students,” Strait said, “this feeling that if you don’t get something the first time or things don’t go your way — however small they are — it feels like a big deal.”

The cover of a children's book titled, "Last Place Lexi."Strait started searching for books she could share with her students and her daughter about resilience, but couldn’t quite find a book with the right message. So she decided to write and publish her own.

“You can’t control life’s circumstances,” Strait said. “But you can control your attitude and how you react to those circumstances. At the end of the story, Lexi learns that the most important thing is having a positive attitude.”

To illustrate the book, she worked with her childhood friend Amanda Newman, who used Kinsley’s likeness to draw Lexi and used her own 7-year-old daughter Lilou as the likeness for Lexi’s best friend.    

The book is now available on Amazon for $12.99 and should be in bookstores by the end of fall. 

Strait is planning a book reading and book signing event on Nov. 11 at The Strand Theatre in Hudson Falls. She will partner with retired Queensbury teacher Clare Rainwater, who now runs Clare Elizabeth Yoga, to present a workshop called “Creating Confident Kids.” 

For more information, you can follow Strait on Instagram @JamieStraitAuthor. 

Strait already has some follow-up books in the works, but for now she is focusing on promoting “Last Place Lexi” and teaching her sixth-grade writers about resilience and perseverance. 

“To become a better writer, you need to work on your own character and self-confidence, which are more important than anything else that I’m teaching,” Strait said. “If kids can walk out of my room and feel confident and feel like they can fail forward or feel like it’s OK to make a mistake, if they don’t give up, then that would be the most amazing thing I could do.”