Lawless Teacher Publishes Children's Book

For 30 years, teacher Linda Garduno delighted children with a story about a friendly witch on a magic broomstick.

Garduno's daughter urged her for years to get the story published. In October, just in time for Halloween, "Witchy Poo" hit book stores and Amazon.com.

The release of the book launched a whirlwind of local book signings and readings for Garduno, including a special presentation on Halloween for students at the campus where she teaches, Lawless Elementary School.

The book is set in her hometown of Pebble Beach and is not only a charming story but honors her parents. Garduno's father passed away earlier this year and her mother five years ago.

"Boyd and Elaine Ferguson were the most amazing people and I was lucky enough to have them as my parents," Garduno said. "They taught me if I set goals in life and persevered through trials, I could reach my greatest dreams."

Garduno, who teaches first grade, tries to inspire her students in the same way. She has taught for Fresno Unified for eight years, and was a long-term substitute teacher for seven years prior to that. She also volunteered in the classroom for 20 years as her four children grew up attending Lawless and Gibson elementary schools, Tenaya Middle School and Bullard High School.

She said it's been fun to share the story of Witchy Poo as an actual book with students. She was joined at Lawless on Oct. 31 by the book's illustrator, Laura Ashley DeWitt, a friend of Garduno's oldest daughter, Ashley Garduno Tracy. Their presentation included sharing about the publishing process.

The book is illustrated with watercolors of the Monterey Peninsula, including Pebble Beach, Lover's Point and the Bixby Bridge. The book depicts Garduno as a child, her parents, childhood home and, of course, Witchy Poo. The book includes the musical notes to sing along with the story and hand motions.

Garduno had always wanted to be a teacher but took seven years to get her degree and credential while she raised her children.

"I enjoy the inquiry of teaching and the joy of learning," Garduno said. "Seeing my students' excitement for learning and their thirst for knowledge motivates me every day. To see the 'aha' moments when they learn a new concept or master a skill they have been struggling with brings me so much joy.

"I love telling them they are scholars, and how special and awesome they are. Sometimes I am the only one believing in them and I make sure they know I do, and I love them."
Garduno said publishing "Witchy Poo" fulfilled one of her greatest goals.

"I can now tell my students that if Mrs. Garduno can become an author ...they can reach their dreams if they persevere," Garduno said.

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