Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Day 1 of the #100Words100Days #engchat Challenge: Maureen Barbieri

After participating in last night’s #engchat, "How We Write: Learning from the Process of Writing," hosted by Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher, I am motivated to write a series of reflections about my gratitude as I embark upon the 100 Words for 100 Days #engchat Challenge.  

While I was in graduate school (in the Education Department) at UNH, my cooperating teacher, Nicole Outsen, persuaded me to take a course at the NH Literacy Institutes (in the English Department). Thankfully I listened to her because this suggestion drastically improved my life.

So, in July of 2003, I took my first writing course at the NH Literacy Institutes and was fortunate to have Maureen Barbieri as my teacher. Maureen taught me so much; and, if I had to summarize my epiphany of that summer, it would be that Maureen instilled into me that writing is therapeutic

Above are two of Maureen's books (published by Heinemann)
I ran out to purchase as I was taking her class (which was not required). 

Eleven years later, I’m still not ready to share the work I wrote that summer with the world, but I shared the poetry I wrote in Maureen's class with my students every year I taught in a brick & mortar classroom. And I’ve kept Maureen’s meaningful feedback close to me too.

On July 18, 2013, Maureen responded to a poem with a lengthy letter that began with, "Dear Rachel,
Knowing that you love to read poetry reminds me why you and I have this bond; we are kindred spirits."

Last November, I attended NCTE and ran into Maureen. (A future post will explain my purpose, and gratefulness, for being at NCTE.)  I’m so thankful to have reconnected with Maureen and to have her in my life on a more regular basis. For fun, I'm helping her use Twitter and it feels incredibly wonderful to share a tool with someone who brought so much healing and joy and enrichment into my life.

Pictured left to right: me, Maureen and Beth Stacy (a colleague who was in the same class),
reconnecting at NCTE, 2013.

(A special thank you to Meenoo Rami for founding #engchat!)

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