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Joni Hay Patras



M.Ed.Counselor Education

Pennsylvania State University

Little girl walking up stairs to the mag



Thanks for stopping by to visit my website! My writing interest began as a child. I loved to write poems and plays in elementary school. Melissa, my little sister, enjoyed playing a part in the plays we would perform at family gatherings. (She's still my best friend today.)

Writing picture books sparked my interest when I began a career as an elementary school counselor. I wrote my own stories for teaching class lessons and support groups. 

Check out my Pinterest page for activities to use in the classroom to promote a safe and kind environment. Also, take a look at the RESOURCE page that contains a comprehensive list of the latest articles, organizations, apps, and books for helping children/teens.

Getting to know me:


My husband and I have a daughter & son that keep us very busy! (The pictures were taken when they were little.) 



We have a labradoodle, named Belle, who loves to play frisbee. 


Favorite Activities:

Spending time with my family, theater, gardening, playing the flute, Zumba, and Kickboxing.

10 Unique Facts:

  • I'm named after Joni Mitchell, a Canadian singer-songwriter who moved to the United States in 1965.​

  • Sammy was my first dog– she jumped in my crib when I arrived home from the hospital. We were best friends until the day she died. 

  • I LOVE animals! Growing up in the country, I encountered many animals- even bats! A few summers ago, my daughter and I went on an Echolocation Walk at at the Wildflower Nature Preserve in PA. It was spooky walking in complete darkness on nature trails! (We heard clicking noises in our devices that meant bats were flying over us.)  

  • I went skydiving in NC with two of my best friends.

  • I purchased a red guitar last year. (It's not as easy as it looks!)

  • My dad played guitar and sang in a classic rock band until 2019.

  • My mom acted for years in a local volunteer theater group who performed plays for kids.

  • During my senior year of high school, I played Liesl in the Sound of Music.

  • I'm super scared of heights!

  • Our dog, Belle, is afraid of taking walks. (Not kidding!)


Books and Coffee


Joni's journey to help children began in 1998 after receiving a Master’s Degree in Elementary School Counseling from the Pennsylvania State University. She worked as an elementary school counselor in Maryland and Pennsylvania.  

In 2004, Joni trained to become a volunteer support group facilitator for the Safe Harbor Bereavement Program at Abington-Jefferson Health Hospital in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Safe Harbor is a center that facilitates support groups for children/teens who are grieving a significant loss. The center has a volcano room, art rooms, sand table, music room, activity room, and a stuffed animal room for opening circle. Currently, she's a facilitator for the 6-to-7 age group. 


She began taking Trauma courses in 2016 at the Lakeside Global Institute. The program included information on how the brain is affected by trauma, types of trauma, and ways to treat individuals impacted by trauma. She received a certification as a Trauma-Competent Professional in 2019.

Currently, Joni is enrolled in a two-year Family Play Therapy Certification Program with a Mindfulness focus at the Family & Therapy Center in Philadelphia.

She's an active member of SCBWI (the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and a member of 12x12 Picture Books.



Information coming soon!
I wrote a picture book that deals with children's grief. The book has a special place in my heart because it was inspired by the children at Safe Harbor.  I have been a volunteer support group facilitator since September 2004.

Kids Reading Outdoor

Children's Grief Awareness Day is designed to help us all become more aware of the needs of grieving children. This day is observed every year on the third Thursday in November. This time of year is a particularly appropriate time to support grieving children because the holiday season is often an especially difficult time after a death.


Children's Grief Awareness Day seeks to bring attention to the fact that often support can make all the difference in the life of a grieving child.  Check out their website to learn how you can participate in this day.

Grief Awarness Day


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