On the first day of kindergarten, I walked shyly into the vast, sunny classroom with its black and white checkboard floor and I discovered a fantastic, unexpected holding space for creativity, kindness, and learning. Immediately, I knew I’d be a teacher. At home in the afternoons, I spent my time inventing rigorous courses of study and a firm but loving persona, revered by the full array of stuffed animals.
I began my real-world teaching career as a day camp counselor, where we created our own board games (great training for plotting stories). I worked as a swimming instructor, teaching infants through elders how to safely and happily engage with water. When I started out as a major in Elementary Education in college, I dreamed of opening an alternative school with a mission for serving over-looked and misunderstood learners (see also: save yourself).
With a Ph.D. in Creative Writing, Fiction, from Florida State University, where I won a teaching award, I’ve been leading creative writing workshops—short story, linked stories, poetry, flash fiction, micro-memoir, hybrid and experimental writing, children’s books, the middle grade novel, poetry, prosody, memoir, and the researched long-form essay—for thirty years.
At the University of South Florida, I teach a wide range of courses in the undergraduate creative writing program, while mentoring Honors students and serving on numerous creative Honors thesis committees. I also teach an online course, the Form and Technique of Poetry, which opens with rap and spoken word, and introduces students to sonnets, ghazals, free verse, and forms and techniques that transfer extremely well to other genres and real world writing situations.
In MFA program at the University of South Florida, I teach nonfiction and memoir courses alongside poetry workshops and prosody/craft classes, as well as a pedagogy practicum, assisting new teachers in developing thoughtful and exciting new curricula while assembling a professional teaching portfolio. Three of these students have been nominated for University teaching awards.
Throughout the year, I teach creativity workshops for writers at any stage in their process at Kripalu, Esalen, and The Sun. In these courses, we focus on developing a healthy, productive writing practice and how to create work that attracts readers (rather than scaring them away.)