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Jake Marcionette standing to the left of a ladder with steps to success on it
  • Crowd in auditorium waiting for program to start
  • Jake Marcionette on stage with arms raised for emphasis
  • cover art and character cut outs from Jake Marcionette
Local Teen Author Visits FSDB

Middle and High School students in both departments had the distinct pleasure of meeting the youngest author to make the New York Times Bestseller List during his visit to FSDB on Tuesday January 24, 2017. Jake Marcionette, author of the Just Jake book series, lives in nearby Ponte Vedra ­– just a hop, skip, and jump away from the FSDB campus.

Marcionette presented to Deaf Department students, introduced by 6th grader Kendall Colon-Moore – she was selected because he was in 6th grade when he wrote his first book. Next, Marcionette presented to Blind Department students, standing on the Wilson Music Building stage briefly while being introduced by Elizabeth McDaniel, who had read his books. Soon he was on the move, roaming the audience and jogging laps around the auditorium, telling kids “I wanna move!” The students, electrified upon realizing that they were not listening to a typical presentation, applauded wildly. Marcionette is no ordinary teenager. The charismatic 16-year-old has already published three books and has a fourth on the way.

Marcionette attributes his technical writing success to a simple demand that his mother made: during summer breaks, she required him (and his sister) to write from breakfast to lunch. In the early years, he hated it and shared some of his tactics to get out of writing, like drawing big elaborate pictures. In later years he grew to enjoy writing, especially after moving to Florida from Maryland while in middle school. Life was very different in Florida and the writing helped him deal with adjustment issues, including bullying by peers. Throughout his motivational speech, Marcionette emphasized that any kid can do what he did, “I am no genius but I had a goal, a good story.” He frequently stated his slogan – Do it NOW. Marcionette shared some of the trials he endured on his writing path. After he drafted his first book he gave to his sister to critique, and she ripped it up. His mother advised him against trying to publish his writing because his feelings might be hurt by the rejections.

But Marcionette was “fearless,” an emotion he repeatedly invoked throughout his presentation. He made 50 cold calls to publishers. He got 49 no responses but on account of the one yes, he became a published author at age 13! Wanting sincerely to help others become successful, Marcionette decided to interview fellow teens who had achieved success early on. He called this “success research” and his six “Steps To Success” summarize what he learned:

  1. Find your passion.
  2. Create goals.
  3. Plan.
  4. Hard work.
  5. Support.
  6. Fearlessness.

Marcionette kept emphasizing the concept of fearlessness throughout the day. As an example, he related his habit of carrying around his latest manuscript for peers to read and critique-– not the most likely thing to do in a high school setting. He urged the students in the audience to “ascend the steps of success like a phoenix!” as he climbed a ladder on which each Step to Success was posted. Marcionette shared other literary tips – he writes in a diary daily and is starting to experiment with genres. He likes to express himself through writing, and felt there was a void in the type of books he enjoys reading. Students and staff in the audience asked many questions at the end of the presentation. He clearly appealed to his peers –it is not often that a guest presenter is their own age. All in all, it was a clean motivational presentation by a dynamic and charismatic young man, and students left inspired. Some student responses:

  • “I thought he was funny, and it was great that he was awarded the young author’s award from New York”.
  • “I liked that he was animated and moved around. This was a much better presentation than others because of that.”
  • “He has a good imagination and works hard. He doesn’t stop in the summer, but keeps working and writing.”
  • “I know ‘Do It NOW’ is a step to success including learning to find your talents and become a hard worker.”
  • “Do it NOW means I can do it myself. For example, I want to work out every day. I want to pass the ACT so I must study.”

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By Christi Boortz, Instructional Services

About FSDB
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) is a fully accredited state public school and outreach center available tuition-free to eligible Pre-K and K-12 deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired students. Comprehensive educational services at FSDB are individualized, specific to the unique communication and accessibility needs of each student for independence and lifelong success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. To visit the school or to learn more about eligibility for enrollment, contact 1-800-344-3732. For more information, visit www.fsdb.k12.fl.us.