Leesville grad shares his newly published book and gives special recognition to a former teacher

Nathan Coffey shares a laugh with his former teacher Ms. Wedge after presenting his newly published children's book during a staff meeting. Coffey’s special bond with Wedge is what brought him back to Leesville to share his story. (Photo used by permission of Nathan Coffey)

In a recent LRHS staff meeting, Nathan Coffey a 2007 Leesville graduate returned to Leesville to share the recent publication of a children’s book he wrote. Coffey came to not only share his book but to also recognize his former teacher Ms. Wedge for the impact she had on him as a student and human being.

Ms. Wedge taught Nathan English IV in his senior year of high school, eleven years ago. Coffey’s book, Bartholomew’s Wish, began as a project in Ms. Wedge’s class. Coffey never intended to eventually publish the story, but when his parents read the story, they loved it and felt it needed to be shared with others.

“They [Nathan’s parents] had it beautifully illustrated by a talented artist named Renee Davis, and then began the slow, almost 12 year process of taking it through publication. I do not think that the publication process actually takes 12 years, but this was a ‘side-project’ that was intermittently worked on by a handful of people who were and are called to many different careers and other life demands!” said Coffey via email.

Coffey expresses endless gratitude to those involved in the publication of his story. He also gives Ms. Wedge a great deal of credit for her impact on him in the classroom and how that shaped him as an individual and writer.

Coffey also believes his faith in God has led to his success. “I both feel blessed by great parents who believe in their children and am confident that we serve a God of perfect timing, so I am excited to see what He will do with this story 12 years later!” said Coffey.

Ms. Wedge stood out to Coffey like no other teacher. “When I recall my interactions with Ms. Wedge as my teacher, words that immediately come to mind are sincere, caring, emotionally attached, excited, loving, passionate and genuine. I always felt that she desired to connect with her students on a personal level, and cared about them well beyond an attendance sheet,” said Coffey via email.

Her teaching style reflects her compassion and makes her classroom an enjoyable learning space.

Teachers like Wedge deserve recognition for their influence on students. Their lessons and words of wisdom stay with their students as they navigate life after high school. Coffey’s visit to Leesville was originally supposed to be a classroom visit to Wedge, but he was given the opportunity to recognize her publicly in front of her coworkers at Leesville.

When Nathan came to Leesville, Ms.Wedge was ecstatic to see him, to the point where she was waving to get his attention before the staff meeting. Her excitement only grew when Nathan spoke and recognized her for her influence on him. To Wedge, Nathan was equally as impactful on her.

“Nathan recognizing me at the faculty meeting was everything. It meant that I should keep teaching and keep giving 100% even when there are students who do not wish to learn; students who make it challenging to teach; and students who test my energy and patience because Nathan reminded me that there could be just one student who is paying attention; working diligently; and right there learning beside me and not against me. Nathan inspired me and renewed a sense of purpose within me,” said Ms. Wedge via email.

Similar to Nathan, Ms. Wedge believes her faith in God has carried her to where she is today as a person and as an educator. “I pray each morning for God to teach through me and give me the skills; strength; faith; and everything necessary to teach and help students to the best of my abilities. I rely on Jesus,” said Wedge.

The two had monumental impacts on each others’ lives, and for that they will forever cherish their bond. Ms. Wedge is beyond proud and can’t wait to show off her former student’s amazing work as she plans to gift many copies of Bartholomew’s Wish to her friends and family. Coffey as well continues to share his story and is excited to see the response from all readers.

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