A fifth year teacher, Henri Whitehead teaches English to sophomores at McDonald County High School. He also coaches track, including the cross country team. But there is another side of this young man — he is a writer with his first book.

“Sol” is the story of two young men who are friends but are separated by class, culture and race.

Henri spent four years on this book, and has learned much about the process of writing a book. So, he believes the next one will come easier.

Born in Monark Springs, Henri got interested in writing while still in high school, and his patience has finally paid off. In spite of the four years it took for this book to meet the presses, Henri plans his next one to take less than a year. He already has some ideas of about the next book.

“They say you should write about what you know best,” Henri said, “and I know high school kids. It will probably be realistic fiction.”

Working with  students, Henri tries to teach some of the lessons he has learned as a writer. “I tell my students that it can be a long process. They sometimes want things done quickly and are not good editors of their own work.”

But, Henri admits, they are just high school sophomores and he loves working with them.

“They are mature, but still are not ready to get out of school. They are still eager to learn.”

Henri is married and has four children — the oldest is in first grade. His kids don’t really understand the importance of their father’s book. “

They think everyone writes a book,” he said.

This is understandable since their grandfather, Doug Whitehead, also writes books, and in fact, uses his grandchildren as characters.

Because Henri likes writing, he got his degree in journalism. While in college, wrote for a community magazine, where he honed his writing skills.

But he has learned that writing a book requires strict discipline.

“I think a writer should set aside some time every day to write,” he said. “Even if they can just write a little at a time.”

Henri is a busy young man with teaching, coaching, being a husband and father, and writing, but when he has some extra time, he likes to play disk golf and enjoy time with his wife and kids.

So this week, author Henri Whitehead checks in as the good neighbor.