English courses from ELA to AP Language
Turlock High School
Local Writing Project:
Great Valley Writing Project (GVWP)
Awards & Recognition
- Turlock Rotary Club Outstanding Teacher of the Year, 2015
- California League of High Schools Educator of the Year, 2015 nominee
- Carlston Family Foundation Outstanding Teachers of America Award – 1st runner up, 2014
- GVWP Teacher Consultant
- CWP Graphite Accelerator Educator
Writing for and with my students has become a standard practice. When I cannot find the appropriate mentor text to model a writer’s tool, I write the samples I need. When my students struggle with ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency and the like, I show them my struggles. The Writing Project has taught me the value of teaching writing by example. My students and I have become a community of writers.
I used to think about writing; now I write. I read like a writer. I think like a writer. I plan like a writer. I write.
The first time I mouthed the words, “I am a writer” was in my Invitational Leadership Institute in the Teaching of Writing, my six weeks of researching writing, studying writing, and writing daily. Our Writing Project Director asked us to say the words aloud so that we would “own them.” Owning the title of writer meant that I would embark on a journey of teaching and learning that would challenge me to commit fully to the craft. Since 2001, I have engaged in on-going research to learn and unlearn habits of mind about the art and science of teaching writing in a community of brilliant writing teachers. Being part of this community of teachers has enhanced my thinking and helped me find my writing voice – and given me the knowledge to help other teachers find theirs.
Writing can be learned. At the start of each year, I watch my students stare at the blank page with terror in their eyes, believing that either people are born writers or they aren’t. I tell them that they can learn to use the writer’s tools and wield them in creative and analytical ways. I tell them that just as carpenters learn to use many tools to build their frameworks, writers do as well. I tell them that with patience, steadfastness, a fine pen, and a beautiful journal, writing can be learned. They have nothing to fear.
Much of what I have learned about writing, I learned from reading Donald Murray’s books. Murray, a journalist and Pulitzer Prize winning editorialist, speaks the language of a wise copyeditor who plainly and fiercely teaches emergent writers to cut the fat. I still hear his voice when I get on my soapbox. I still crack open The Craft of Revision when I need a reminder that real writing means rewriting.