Leah Santa Maria has spent time as a school teacher, a counselor, a wife and a mom, and now she’s added a new job title to her resume – children’s book author. Santa Maria will make an appearance at The Store in Lake Highlands Saturday at 10:30 to read and sign copies of her new book, Always The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
Santa Maria, who served as counselor at Merriman Park for six years before moving to Forest Meadow Junior High in 2016, says she chose the profession because of the positive impression her own counselor left.
“My high school was much smaller than LHHS, but Mrs. Jones took the time to get to know each one of us and truly cared about our future,” she says. “At that time I thought, ‘I hope I can help kids in the same way someday.’”
Santa Maria particularly focuses on preventing bullying and suicide.
“Although I have not been affected personally by suicide, I have loved ones who have and know that this is something that cannot be ignored,” she says. “There are so many young people going through major issues, and if they can have just one adult in their life who cares, that can increase their chances of success immensely.”
Santa Maria and her husband live in Lake Highlands with their twin daughters and son – the inspiration, she says of her first published book.
“My son asked me one night, ‘When is God’s birthday?’ and the story was born.” The plot involves Olsen, who understands that Christmas is the birthday of Jesus but wonders when to celebrate God’s birthday. Faith Padilla, the book’s illustrator, was a teacher at the Santa Maria kids’ daycare and sent home beautiful pictures of princesses and superheroes. Santa Maria’s husband suggested Padilla would be perfect to illustrate her story.
Always the Most Wonderful Time of the Year is available at The Store in Lake Highlands and where other books are sold.