Temple alumnus Michael Ferrence, who received his masters in education in 2008, recently self-published his book “Realigned” through Amazon. Ferrence’s book follows the story of Sam, a man whose longtime girlfriend abruptly leaves with their son, which causes him to become completely lost and move back in with his father.
A Renaissance man, Ferrence is an avid musician, teacher and writer looking to find a way to combine all of his skills and continue to “create and circulate.”
The Temple News: How did you come up with the premise of “Realigned”?
Michael Ferrence: It’s a combination of a twist of things that I’ve lived. My parents split when I was younger, so that’s kind of where that element came from. They actually didn’t get divorced [and] they’re still together, but there was a time when I was young where that happened. I knew I wanted to write a book and that popped into my head, so I started from there and then it went off on its own as I wrote it.
TTN: What made you come to Temple?
MF: I was working at The Center for Autism, which is with preschool-age kids on the autism spectrum, and I always wanted to teach, even [in] undergraduate school [at Kutztown University] I thought about it. I ended up getting a degree in psychology so the whole time I’ve been kind of interested in teaching. While I was at the center, I explored different opportunities to go to different schools and Temple seemed to be a really good fit.
TTN: How did you get involved with The Center for Autism?
MF: It’s actually pretty interesting. One of my friends, I went to his wedding and talked to a couple friends of friends there and two of them actually worked at The Center for Autism. I had a degree in psychology so that was pretty fitting and my dad worked with adults that had special needs so it was kind of right up my alley and something I was interested in. I spoke with the friends at the wedding and they said, “Why don’t you apply here? We’ve been working here for a few years and it’s a good place to get your foot in the door.” I applied in September  and ended up working there in January of 2006.
TTN: Are you still involved in that field?
MF: Since then, I went to Temple, got my degree in education with certification in special education. I’ve been teaching learning support in the School District of Philadelphia since March 2008, which is with kids who have been diagnosed with learning disabilities. So I’m still involved with the special needs population very much so, just not with autism anymore.
TTN: What made you go about getting your book published?
MF: I wrote the book back in 2005 over a course of a few months. I tried to get the book published at the time via traditional means, which was more trying to reach out to literary agents. I tried sending out unsolicited letters to various publishers and then I didn’t get anywhere with it. Over time I decided I have all these songs written, a book and all these stories written so at the beginning of this year I decided I’m going to create and circulate – that was my New Year’s resolution. I have so much stuff – I want to make more and now get it off of my hard drive or out of my head and get it out to people.
As far as [“Realigned,”] I got it self published and it’s in the Amazon Kindle store right now. This summer I couldn’t teach the summer program I usually do so I spent my time editing and updating my book.
TTN: Do you have any plans to formally combine all your skill sets into one project?
MF: I think I’ve been developing over the years a more entrepreneurial mindset. That’s one thing I love about teaching because it offers you the autonomy to do a lot of things at least within the boundaries of what you’re good in. I would eventually like to move in the direction of combining education, music, a strong literacy and writing program. I’ve thought of things as far out as starting my own school, which may or may not evenr happen, but they’re all ideas I’ve had. If not, at least having [my skills] engrained and embedded in a more systematic way because I feel it’s more beneficial to everyone that way.
Luis Fernando Rodriguez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.