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  • Diana Santamaria

How It All Started

The inspiration for DLee's World began when I was just a little girl. I did not know it then but all of my life was leading up to educating and eventually writing, speaking and inspiring our youngest learners.


Growing up, I lived in Brooklyn, NY. In an area called Canarsie. I resided in a garden apartment surrounded by my family- mom, dad, and brother along with my aunts and cousins who lived in apartments within the complex. I went to public school 279. I was enrolled in that school from Pre-K all the way up to the 3rd grade. I was a super shy little girl (so shy that I didn't speak most of Pre-K and continued not to speak much throughout my time there. I actually went to school with my cousin and I would whisper in her ear for her to speak for me.) I had wavy brown hair with the biggest glasses available in stores. I'm assuming it was a part of the fashion, because my mom wore incredibly large glasses as well. I hated wearing my glasses with a passion. Mostly because I was made fun of by a lot of the kids in school saying things like I was a nerd or I could see into the future. I even remember, quite clearly, that one boy said I looked like a frog with my glasses. These were not my happiest moments but it would all come full circle in my future creation of DLee and her world. And so regardless, I am grateful for those experiences because inspiring me in more ways than one.


Okay so here we are now in the 3rd grade, I was home doing my homework with my parents and they realized I was having trouble reading my work. From that day forward, my father sat me down every day after school to read with me. He bought this book called, Why Johnny Can't Read and we practiced daily till we completed the book and I was able to read independentally. This sounds peachy but I will

tell you that it was an experience mixed with lots of tears and frustration from both parties. However in the end, I was a reader and I liked it.


After learning how to read, my educational career began to flourish. I moved to a town called Bogota in New Jersey and continued excelling with each passing year. Through my time with my dad, I developed an attitude of determination in whatever I did and that would be a key factor in my success as an educator and later author.


Growing up I always dabbled in the arts. I had a passion for drawing, painting, singing and writing. I especially enjoyed creating characters, silly stories and poems. Throughout highschool my favorite classes were art and literature.


Once I graduated, I went to school and received my BA in Speech Communication. To be honest, I never really knew what I should do with my life and due to fear and a lack of encouragment, I did not pursue my artistic passions right away. Therefore, I put them aside and picked a general area of study and completed it with honors.


Although I did not initially go to school for education, I was eventually inspired to become a teacher. From that point on I received my initial teaching certification, landed a position as a Pre-K teacher and later, enrolled in an alternate route teaching program; leading to a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Montclair State University.


One day while studying for finals at my friend Lucy's house, we were taking a breather and started chatting about our passions. I mentioned that I wanted to become an author to help inspire literacy on a grander scale. Given my own struggles with reading, I wanted to design stories that children could learn and grow with. Stories that were educational, fun and represented the diverse country that we live in today. These stories would target and appeal to the youngest learners; helping to develop an enjoyment for all things literacy early on. Thus, instead of just impacting the students in my classroom, I would be able to inspire and help children all over the world develop a love for reading at a younger age. On that night, I read Lucy a story that I wrote called DLee's Shapely Imagination (which is my newest released story- December of 2020). After reading the silly story, she enthusiastically told me I should continue writing. That day, her words awoke the artistic side of me again. From that moment forward, I would sit and write every day after work. The ideas were flooding from me and DLee's World was officially created in a word doc. I had never felt so inspired and so whole in my life. I was able to take all my experiences up to that point- including childhood, professional and so on, to develop a main character, supporting characters, and a semi-fictional world based on my life.


In 2014, I developed DLee's World and I've been plugging away since.






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