One Dunaway Elementary PE teacher is spreading a message to students from his first-ever published book, "Ricky, the Flying Deer."
"It was several years ago, one of my kids transferred in, and she was doing push-ups," Roger Wells recalled over the phone. "She was struggling, and she had water in her eyes and could barely talk. I took this child to the back, and if you looked at her, she looked like everyone else."
Wells has been an educator for 30 years and served 24 years with Waxahachie ISD. When speaking to the upset student, Wells realized the child struggled using one of her arms. He then motivated the student to "Try her best."
"My philosophy in PE is to try," Wells emphasized. "That’s how you’re going to learn is if you try."
After Wells portrayed this message, the student then showed a grin and participated in the back of the gym and did a great job moving forward.
Wells had a nightmare that evening that he was a flying deer, kind of like the old school cartoon Rudolph. He went to write down the dream the following day and realized he needed to use his imagination to tell more of an inspiring story.
Within 30 minutes to an hour, Wells had written the children’s book "Ricky, the Flying Deer."
After reading the draft to his principal and counselor, he was encouraged to publish the content. The book was self-published through Waxahachie-local Anita Dickason and was illustrated by Coleman Junior High art teacher Rae Whitehead.
"I was super excited; this was the third book I’ve illustrated," said Whitehead, who’s served 13 years with WISD. "I’ve done two before for Mike Peavler, a retired teacher, one in pen and ink (black and white drawings) — it was more of an adult book — and one in watercolor pencils for children."
Whitehead illustrated a family of deer and other critters based on research and the imagination of Wells. She utilized vibrant watercolor pencils to be kid-friendly.
"She nailed it," Wells complimented. "She was incredible."
Wells said he is embodied in the character of Ricky and Ricky’s mom. Meanwhile, the cast of characters has a deeper meaning.
Ricky was a random name chosen; however, the other animals are named after his older brothers. The raccoon character is a tribute to his oldest brother, who passed away several years ago.
"My brothers were emotional," Wells noted. "The oldest one is Kevin, and he passed away. Now my brothers say we are all together again."
"The moral of the story is just try," Wells elaborated. "Everyone is special, and everyone can do something, but just try, and everything will be fine."
The book has had a domino effect, making its way in other schools around Texas through Wells’ network of friends and family.
Wells received the first copy of the book during spring break and read the story to students on the Dunaway Facebook page to help spread the message and satisfy his students who have eagerly waited to hear the tale of "Ricky, the Flying Deer."
If interested in purchasing this book, "Ricky, the Flying Deer" can be found on Amazon.