An author in the classroom

Published 1:18 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A new Prince Edward teacher brings more than teaching experience with him to the classroom.

Fourth grade teacher David Durren uses his experience as an up- and-coming author to inspire students in the classroom. The 55-year-old has been teaching since 2000 but only recently came to Prince Edward Elementary School from his previous jobs in the Hampton Roads area.

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In the classroom, he encourages his students to express themselves in many ways.

David Durren stands with his latest book.

CARSON REEHER | HERALD David Durren stands with his latest book.


“I encourage them to think about their future and cultivate the gifts they have as they chase their dreams,” he said. “My goal is that my students would trust and believe in their gifts and to be inspired to be whatever they want to be.”

In the same way, Durren himself was inspired to pursue his own dream of being a writer. He first began writing children’s literature in 2011 and recently had his first book published, Paddy’s Forest Adventure.

“I have always had a desire to write and would write many reading passages, and just felt it was time to try something different,” he said.

Durren said he is inspired by movies, such as Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, to believe in himself and chase his dream of being an author. The story for his book came from a desire to write something teachers could use to encourage positive character traits, he said.

“I chose a porcupine and snake as main characters because a porcupine is not a common animal choice and I chose a snake because they usually have a negative reputation,” he explained.

It didn’t take Durren long to write his story.

“From brainstorming, story mapping, rough draft, editing and final copy, the process took about month,” he said, noting the hardest part was finding a publisher and then figuring out how to cover the fees of publishing the book. “In my naïve way I figured I would show a publisher my book, and they would in turn give me a wheelbarrow full of money. That is not quite the process.”

Durren said it took about three years to raise enough money to pay for the illustrations, marketing and distribution of the book.

The publisher helped him contact stores and restaurants to host book signings; from there, his goal became a reality.

“Being around children all day gives me the opportunity to try and make a difference in their lives, and to try and equip them with the tools they will need to be successful in the classroom,” Durren said.

He said he tries to get to know his students and come up with ways to “help them develop skills that will make them productive and positive members of society.”

He not only wants to instill in his students the courage to dream, but also the bravery to chase after those dreams.

“A student who reads opens the floodgates to learning about whatever they desire, and reading helps them develop an endless imagination that takes them anywhere they want to go through the books they read,” Durren said.

No matter where his students go in life, he knows a love for reading will give them the foundation they need to develop critical thinking skills.

Currently Durren is working on his second story, What I Learned From Spenser Spider, which has already been accepted for publication.

“It is a story about a little boy who learns, by watching a spider, to deal with setback and frustration that come about,” he explained. “The boy learns how to be more patient and tolerant, and how to be able to deal with whatever problems come his way.”

Paddy’s Forest adventure is currently available online through, Barnes and and through Tate Publishing also offers the story in an e-book format and can be downloaded to any electronic device. Durren said he will be also seeking out opportunities to sign and sell books at various events and hopes to have a table at the Farmers Market.