It is truly amazing how so many of the graduates of our schools do amazing things in the years after they leave our schools. Today, you will read about Stephanie Winter, Elk Grove High School, Class of 1975. She is a wonderful writer and has several books that are available for purchase. The focus of her books is .children with disabilities, and the books are meant for parents and teachers.
I met with Stephanie recently and readers will find many connections to her and her family. She is the daughter of Glenn and Bernie Winter, both longtime Elk Grove residents. Glenn was a teacher and coach at Elk Grove High. Stephanie’s sister, Elizabeth (Liz), graduated in 1974. Here is Stephanie’s story:
“After my dad graduated from Sacramento State in 1960 he was hired by the Elk Grove Unified School District as a biology teacher at Elk Grove HS. He also coached the track team. He was in classes with Jan Rau at Sac State where she graduated from as well. That’s how far back they go. This was when the high school was where Joseph Kerr is now. His classroom was in the brick building that still stands at the corner.
“My parents lived in south Sacramento in the Florin area. We moved to Elk Grove when I was in 5th grade. We lived across the street from the school in the walnut orchard, and later in Plaza Park. In1964, the Elk Grove High School opened a new campus, where it is now. My dad continued teaching and coached football and was head track coach. He eventually became the athletic director. Jan Rau, who illustrated my books, was a physical education teacher and under his direction became the girls’ track coach.
After high school I went to college, eventually transferring to UCLA where I received my bachelor’s degree. I worked in hospital administration and stayed on in Southern California where I married and had my son, Joe Colacino. In 1996, I decided to move back to Elk Grove. (I was) wanting to make sure my son was raised here. I continued in health care, working for Kaiser Permanente for over 20 years.
“When my son was at Franklin Elementary, he was diagnosed with high functioning autism, Asperger’s. He was the only student at his school with autism and the teachers and I had to all learn together. The staff at Elk Grove USD did a fantastic job with my son. That is why books are dedicated to teachers and specialists at EGUSD.
“My son continued to find success in school. He graduated from Harriet Eddy MS and Laguna Creek HS and went on to Sac City College. He received a degree in railroad operations. He was a success story with help from family and his special education teacher at EGUSD.
“I began putting together a book on raising a child with Asperger’s. The first book led to a second and then a third. All the books focus on my son’s passion for Trains.
“My son was granted permission by the State of California to become a docent at the California State Railroad Museum when he was 15. Even then, he was an expert on trains and the railroad. He was the youngest volunteer for California State Parks and Recreation.
“I am an avid reader and have always enjoyed writing. I decided to write these books knowing that with good editing and good illustrations they might turn out well. I needed an illustrator. So, I just googled, ‘artist – Elk Grove!’ To my surprise up came Jan Rau, our family friend and colleague of my dad. I contacted her, explained my situation and she agreed to give it a try. She is known for her painting skills but she agreed to help me out.”
These are Supergrad Stephanie’s books – (by, S. Lea, her pen name): Chasing Trains, 2016; Waiting for Trains, 2017; and Boarding the Train, 2018. Books can be purchased on the website http://aspergerskid.com or you can contact Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org. The books are in the reference library at UC Davis Mind Institute, the nationally known research center for autism.
It is interesting to note that Jan Rau is not only an Elk Grove artist, but she has a lot of Elk Grove history in her life. Her long career at Elk Grove High is part of that history, but she also made many contributions to our parks and the Cosumnes Community Services District. A park on Elk Grove-Florin Road is named for her – the Jan Rau Park. And, her father is Everett Bradley, well known math teacher at Joseph Kerr.
Here is more from Supergrad Stephanie: “In Elk Grove a whole lot has changed... But many things haven’t. Small towns are great. Sometimes it’s good and I guess that’s why I came back, and now I frequently take trips down ‘memory lane!’
“The reviews on the books say that any parents will enjoy the content... not just parents of autistic kids. The stories are engaging and often funny.”
Stephanie Winter lives in Elk Grove, and I am sure she would be a great presenter to groups involved with children. We thank her for sharing her story, and we will enjoy her books.
BOOKS BY ELIZABETH PINKERTON
History Happened Here, Book 1 – River, Oaks, Gold
History Happened Here, Book 2 – Fields, Farms, Schools
We the People, a Story of Internment in America
All book proceeds go for student scholarships, and I thank the many purchasers who have made possible the 75 scholarships with each one $1,000 – Make your check for books payable to Laguna Publishers and send to me at 9227 Lamprey Drive, Elk Grove, CA 95624. Books are $20 apiece and California sales tax is included. Add $3 for shipping of one or two books; $5 for 3-6 books. Call me at (916) 685-0606 or email me at email@example.com. And, you can always purchase books at meetings of the EGUSD Board of Education.