Make Your Mark: International Stitch Day on September 15, Founded by a Traer Teacher, Celebrates Creativity | Local News

TRAER — Terry Shay left his mark on the world, and that’s a point.

He is the founder of International Dot Day, which takes place on Thursday.

“It’s pretty surreal,” said Shay, a K-12 vocal music teacher at North Tama School in Traer. “I had the initial idea and educators followed it and made it what it is today. It was a wave of people jumping on it and believing kids were creative.


The worldwide phenomenon began on September 15, 2009, when Shay introduced his students to “The Dot”, a children’s picture book by Peter H. Reynolds, author of “Sky Color”.

The story inspired Shay to establish a Dot Day.

On Saturday, Dot Day will be highlighted at the Waterloo Urban Farmers’ Market from 8 a.m. to noon. There will be sidewalk chalk and sticker making materials to create dots. Several sellers will have “red dot” promotions marketwide, said board chair Jessica Young.

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“I don’t want adults to think these activities are just for kids, but I obviously think the kids are going to love all of these activities. I believe one of the ideas behind Dot Day is to spark creativity in everyone,” Young explained.

Games and crafts will take place throughout the morning at the market, presented by the Waterloo Center for the Arts and the Phelps Youth Pavilion, as well as a story walk with ‘The Dot’. At 9:30 a.m., a story hour with “The Dot” will be hosted by the Waterloo Public Library and at 11 a.m. Nia Wilder, Member of Waterloo City Council, will read the book.

International Stitch Day is celebrated in 197 countries and territories around the world. Reynolds will participate in a live event with Flip on Thursday from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Participating classrooms will see a live performance of songs from the upcoming “TheatreWorks USA Dot, Dot, Dot: A New Musical.” A short video featuring North Tama students is part of the celebration, Shay said.


Primary students from North Tama had a football pitch update with their teachers in 2017.


In “The Dot”, an art teacher encourages a student who doubts her abilities to “make a mark and see where it takes you”. Her angry little dot on a piece of paper begins a journey of self-discovery towards creativity, confidence, self-esteem and courage.

“It’s a hugely influential book that should be in every teacher training curriculum,” said Shay, from Oelwein. He met Reynolds at a conference and they became friends.

One day he messaged Reynolds, suggesting “Let’s have a day where the kids score. Anyone can make a point, even the most reluctant adult can make a point.

Reynolds embraced the idea and helped give Dot Day a global platform.

“My kids feel like they have a relationship with Peter because he was here in 2016. They interact with him throughout the year, sending him pictures of what we do,” Shay said.

Her school supports Shay’s efforts. In previous years, classrooms created human dots on the soccer field, made art projects with stained glass, and high school students used their tablets to draw dots and then formed a human dot with their tablets for a photo.

Shay believes in fostering creativity. “I find ways to do that in music lessons, to show kids how smart they are in different ways. Not everyone is good at the same things, but everyone can be creative.