There are two things I have always dreamed of being: a rock star and an English teacher. They are not as dissimilar as they immediately seem. Both entail standing before a group of people, forging a connection, and sharing knowledge and ideas, be they academic, creative or emotional.
Six years ago I took my first steps toward my dream of rock stardom by buying a guitar and taking lessons. As a twenty-seven-year-old pastor's wife and stay-at-home-mom of three, the dream, not surprisingly, took on a new form from that of my youth. I quickly became aware that my joy didn't lie necessarily in performance or the hope of fame, but in creation. I began to study the craft of songwriting. I now perform regularly in Hastings and nearby communities and in 2006, I won a statewide songwriting contest. The process of turning a daydream into a reality has been exciting, empowering and inspiring.
This fall I started working toward my second dream of being a teacher. I am pursing my Masters of Arts in Teaching with an endorsement in secondary English. I work as a graduate assistant in the Learning Center where I edit student papers, give general study help, and teach Learning Labs to students in the Excel program for academically at-risk freshmen. Much of my work is focused on writing, be it informal instruction to drop-in students or formal lessons in the Lab.
An Imagine Grant can help me combine my two dreams by attending The Song School at Planet Bluegrass. For the past twelve years Planet Bluegrass in Lyons, Colorado has hosted an intensive four-day songwriting workshop. The Song School is self-described as an event “which brings songwriting and creativity together in a community based on shared love of music and support for each participant.” Each August, songwriters from around the country and the globe join together to explore the writing process and create, hone and share their songs. The Song School provides a nurturing environment in which participants can stretch and grow in their creative endeavors. The faculty is made up of internationally known songwriters, actors, music professionals, and songwriting peers.
Attending The Song School will help me in my personal artistic journey and give me the tools to help others. My confidence, sense of personal creative fulfillment and my art itself will be impacted from the instruction, support and mentoring I receive. Also, I will have the opportunity to observe how to construct an open, creative learning environment, observe how instructors nurture their students’ creativity, and discover techniques for “out of the box” writing instruction which can be directly applied to my classroom teaching. The Song School’s model of mentoring relationships, supportive critiques, and a framework for collaboration are all things I can reproduce in my classroom both now and in the future.
However, I do not want to wait until I have completed my course of study here at Hastings College to put what I learn at The Song School to use. In the fall of 2008, I would like to host a grant-funded songwriting workshop for local high school students. The workshop will be free and open to any interested Hastings-area young writer. Using current and forging new contacts with private and school-based music teachers, I will distribute informational flyers inviting young writers to participate. Ideally, the workshop will be on a Saturday in September or October on the Hastings College campus. We will meet 9 AM to 5 PM, students to bring a brown bag lunch, drinks and snacks provided. I will design a curriculum and activities based on what I learned at The Song School, modified for the time frame, age group and number of participants.
In this direct way, I can pass on what I have learned from The Song School.
Hopefully, attending the songwriting workshop will help young writers find joy in self-expression and fulfillment through music, which they can, in turn, pass on. In the long term, as a classroom English teacher, I can use these same techniques to inspire my students, and fuel their dreams--even a dream as unlikely as being an English teacher and a rock star.
The Song School tuition/camping fee: $450.00
Meals (three per day @ $10/ six days): $180.00
Mileage (423 miles one way x2 @ $.048/mile) $406.08
Fall Songwriting Workshop (publicity, materials, refreshments, etc.) $100.00