About J Stanion.
My real name is Gwendolyn McPhail.
It all started with the words "Iron Horse" and stories I'd heard for as long as I could remember. A manuscript based in truth, too threatening to reveal and too tragic not to tell. It led to a lifelong interest in horses, Indigenous culture and the impact education can have on those who partake of it.
J Stanion is a pen name I created from my father's first initial and my great-grandfather's last name. Dad spoke very proper English and believed in the power of the written word. If my writing had to be grammatically correct, I had only to close my eyes and listen for his voice in my head. His efforts were reinforced by Mrs. Marty Mathis, 10th grade English teacher at Newberry High School, who honed my literary skill with interpretations of poems by e.e.cummings and various renditions of Shakespeare. I will forever be indebted for her gift.
Writing has allowed me to express my feelings through the depths of depression and unrequited love, to exchange joyful poems with my father over a lifetime, to succeed at being named a National Board Certified teacher of Science, and to research and complete the application of our family farm for its listing on the National Register of Historic Places (McPhail Angus Farm). Most recently, it allowed me to publish my first novel, a story that took three generations to be told.
1974 to 1999
& Newberry College
First degree: BS in Animal Science, minor in Wildlife Biology
Second degree: Education (requirements for teaching certification)
Master's degree: Agricultural Education, concentration in Therapeutic riding
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Received National Board Certification in Science while teaching at Walhalla Middle School. Transferred to West Oak High School to teach Food Science and Livestock Production.
Birth to Current
School of Hard Knocks
Public school barely began the preparation needed for my life as it turned out. I will be eternally thankful for a mother and father who taught their daughters that we didn't have to settle for traditional women's roles in life and that anything was possible if you worked hard enough.
Found alive after the massacre at Wounded Knee, twelve-year-old John Iron Horse is determined not to end up like the rest of his people. Then he learns that the motto of the school he’s required to attend is “Kill the Indian, save the man.”
Carter Heath teaches in the government-run educational system and knows there’s more to his position than what’s happening in his classroom. He’ll soon learn that he works in a bureaucracy where politics, money and ulterior motives are always intertwined.
Can the bond between an extraordinary student and a dedicated teacher survive in a world that pits red man against white?
Available August 2023.