- July 15, 2020
Winter Garden resident and educator Peyton Giessuebel is using her failures to inspire the community to overcome their own.
The elementary school teacher released recently her first children’s book, “If You Only Knew What Failure Could Do.” The 32-page children’s book serves as her testimony.
She said failure is inevitable, and she wants children to have a healthy relationship with it. She hopes children learn the strength they obtain from failure is something they can only get from those failed experiences.
“The story is all based on a student who is experiencing failure and learning to overcome it while also learning to try and shift the mindset of what failure actually is,” Giessuebel said. “It’s not something we should look at and hang our heads … but something we should be proud of because those failures that we go through actually get us to where we want to be. If we just succeeded at everything, then we wouldn’t build the character, perseverance and the strength that we need to go through life.”
Giessuebel said she always had aspirations to write a book about her life, although not necessarily a children’s book.
Giessuebel found Diana McDermott, a Christian illustrator, who she said was a phenomenal person to work with.
The book’s formation began less than a year ago, and Giessuebel said it was actually a pretty smooth process, which she credits to McDermott, who she said worked endlessly on the vision she had.
In the story, Thomas, an elementary student, fears reading aloud to his class because he is too afraid to fail. Once the time comes for him to read aloud, he begins with confidence and realizes it’s easier than he thought, until he stumbles across a word he doesn’t know.
Immediately, thoughts of doubt and failure flood his head. However, all that changes through a conversation with his teacher, Mrs. Daniels. Through her, he realizes his failure isn’t really a failure after all.
Giessuebel said the story resembles events that took place in her own life. Mrs. Daniels is even named after a teacher who personally inspired her.
“She was caring, she was kind, she used to stay after contract hours to tutor me and give me the assistance that I needed because I struggled in school,” Giessuebel shared. “I felt like she believed in me and saw me not just as a student, but as a person. When I saw her selflessness and her sacrifices, it just made me want to do the same for other kids.”
When working to become a teacher, Giessuebel shared she also experienced a lot of challenges because of struggles with test taking.
“Ever since finally passing it, I’ve always been an advocate for the belief that I don’t think a test defines someone, because I was a straight ‘A’ student but couldn’t pass a test,” she said. “Being a teacher now, I see some of my kids get so defeated when they don’t pass a test. It just breaks my heart. I want to change that.”
Giessuebel said she would not have been able to get to this point without her family, her church community and all the people that believed in her.
There are even hidden tributes in the book to her family. The main character, Thomas, is named after her older brother, an illustrated calendar in the book shows her brother’s birthday month and her family’s names reside on the chalkboard.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Giessuebel is a true product of the Winter Garden community, as she attended Thornebrooke Elementary and Lakeview Middle and graduated from West Orange High.
She went on to obtain her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Central Florida where, she also earned her master’s degree in educational leadership.
At only 26 years old, Giessuebel holds two degrees and three educational certifications. She currently is working towards her doctorate’s degree in curriculum and instruction.
She has been teaching at Maxey Elementary School for five years, where she has taught first-, second- and now third-grade students.
Giessuebel knew she wanted to be a teacher when she was in first grade. She said she was inspired to teach elementary age students because of her love for children. She serves also at her church, Hope Church, in the children’s department.
“Any chance that I get to be around the youth, I’m going to take it,” she said. “Seeing their personalities and kind of helping them develop into who they’re meant to be – and I think at a younger age that’s so detrimental – playing a role in that is what made me want to stick with this age group.”
Giessuebel said she has always been a dreamer and motivated to make something of herself. Although she wants to remain a teacher, she said her audience may change in the future as she has considered teaching at the college level or teaching future teachers.
“I feel like there’s also a negative connotation associated with people who decide they want to be teachers,” she said. “A lot of people stop those people because they say all of these things that are not good about education, so I would like to inspire those people and show them that sure there are things that are not that great, but there are also so many benefits that you can get in this job that you just don’t get in other jobs. If it’s on your heart to be a teacher, I feel like you should explore it. I’d like to be a positive light in that reality.”