Growing up, Caitlin Barber was the little girl dressed as a WVU cheerleader at football tailgates. Raised in a family of Mountaineer fans, Barber experienced the thrill of football season from a young age. Now a third-grade teacher at Eastwood Elementary School in Morgantown, Barber shares that passion with her students and WVU fans everywhere.
“When it comes to game time, there’s just an excitement in the air all over the state,” Barber said. “West Virginia is not a big state. We don’t have professional teams. I feel like WVU is our team and what we stand behind.”
A few years ago, inspiration struck Barber whiling watching WVU football game with her family. At half-time, she walked around her neighborhood and took in the sights and sounds of game day. In that moment, she decided to write a children’s book about it.
“I came back inside and told my parents that I was going to write a children’s book about WVU football,” Barber said. “They thought I was a little crazy at first, but I started it.”
In July 2015, the book that Barber started on a whim was published by Mascot Books. Titled “'Twas the Night Before Game Day,” the rhyming story follows a young Mountaineer fan as he takes in a game at Milan Puskar Stadium, providing readers with a glimpse of the excitement.
“There are a lot of kids in the state who will never be fortunate enough to attend a game,” Barber said. “I feel like this introduces them to what it’s like, giving kids who may not get to experience that a little piece of the pie.”
Becoming a children’s author and teacher isn’t something Barber, a two-time WVU graduate, planned on when she started at the University. She earned her BA in public relations, a program that she pursued because of her strength in writing; however, she ultimately decided that becoming a teacher was the better path for her.
“My passion my whole life has been children,” Barber said.
Barber enrolled in CEHS’ master’s program in elementary education and added a master’s in reading along the way. For her, the most valuable aspects of the program were the hands-on experiences she gained in the classroom.
“I definitely liked that I was able to get into the classroom my first semester of graduate school,” Barber said. “I learned a lot of things – how to truly understand students, diversity and learning disabilities, and what it means to be a teacher and leader.”
Once a struggling reader herself, Barber now values the opportunity to help children who struggle to read.
“I found my niche, because I could really connect with those kids who were struggling,” she said.
In her third-grade classroom, Barber tells her own story to teach her students that nothing is impossible for them.
“It shows the kids that you can really do anything if you put your mind to it,” Barber said. “I was just a struggling reader, and then a teacher. Now, I’ve got this book.”
“'Twas the Night Before Game Day” is available through most major booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.