Braving the Elements

This school year I got involved with a fantastic organization:

PEN USA

And along with my teaching partner and fellow USC classmate, Krishna, we have been teaching creative writing in Mr. Abrahams' 9th grade Life skills class, once a week. This past wednesday, after weeks of working with these students, Krishna and I got to give each of our students a book filled with their creative work, an anthology. We staged a reading, complete with punch and cookies and lots of photos.



Braving the Elements

The title of our anthology: Braving the Elements. This was also the theme of our time together... the elements of story. Every story, true or imagined, has four basic elements: Context, Character, Challenge, and Change. Everyone has a story to tell and this class was no exception. Seeing the looks on these kids faces, when we handed them a book filled with their work, watching them look for their name in print... I forgot how nervous I was to show up in their classroom just a few months ago.

Early on, walking into that classroom, in downtown Los Angeles, with more than 30 teenagers staring back at me, I struggled with the thought that I may not have anything relevant or helpful to say. I comforted myself with the thought that I was taller than they were and could drive a car... they can be a tough audience... but from the looks of the picture, I'm not that much taller! Yikes. (I'm the only blonde female and these kids are still growing. I'm not.)

Bravery was another theme that came up a whole lot. When Krishna and I started working with this class, we set three goals for them: to be better writers, published authors, and to be BRAVE. It's tough to share your creative work out loud and in public. I think Krishna and I have been learning this right along with the class. These students rose to the occasion and I am so thrilled with the result. I could not have done this without Krishna or Brandon (Mr. Abraham) and I can't wait to see what the new quarter of students will bring.