The first class I ever taught was a freshman composition class at the University of Cincinnati in 1997. I'd known I wanted to be a teacher. That quarter talking through argument and evidence and paragraph structure, in spite of itself, sealed it. I've been an educator ever since.
I approach the classroom the same way whether I am working with a new group of Free Minds students who don't yet trust that they belong or a gathering of poets at a museum who want to write in response to art. My first job is to create a safe space for exploration. Once we know that our voices will be honored, that our experience will be respected, we can set out to discover what we are capable of.
Over the years I've taught poetry to teen moms at Marywood School and haiku to kindergarteners at my neighborhood elementary. Students in Free Minds begin the year with Benjamin Franklin and end it with reflective portfolio essays, and in between I guide them through image and line breaks and This I Believe essays. I've taught ekphrastic poetry at the Blanton, beginning yoga in a community center, and a group of undergraduates and I traced fiction from Kafka to Garcia Marquez to Morrison. Since the 2016 election, I've been offering free workshops to activists to give them the tools and confidence to write op-eds and letters to the editor.
Teaching is at the core of everything I do.
Being an educator has made me an advocate. You can't work with adult students year after year and not recognize the ways the system is not set up to support them. I want to see barriers to entry -- including student transcript holds and financial aid bars for ancient academic records -- addressed in educational policy. I want to help students find their way to programs that aim to see them succeed, not take advantage of them. I will stand on behalf of educational equity whenever I can.
The photos below provide a glimpse into my experiences as an educator. Click on a photo for a tiny story about my students and my work. (Hover at the bottom of the photo after clicking.)