Heartland Community Schools
This is my 32nd year of teaching secondary Language Arts at Heartland Community Schools-Henderson/Bradshaw, Nebraska. This is a small rural school that merged with Bradshaw 12 years ago.
This setting has given me multiple teaching preparations daily but it has also given me the freedom to create the curriculum for those several classes. The most successful one is a sophomore English class I created 25 years ago that focused on the literary heritage of Nebraska as well as the community history and personal heritages of my students. The sophomores regularly write and photograph our area of southeast Nebraska and this work has been documented in a chapter, "A Sense of Place," in Dr. Robert Brooke's book Rural Voices: Place-Conscious Education and the Teaching of Writing published in 2003 as well as in an article "The Power of Place," published in the July 2004 English Journal.
I have co-facilitated six summer Rural Writing Institutes where the primary focus is bringing rural teachers into an experience with Place-Conscious work. My work with P-C education beyond my own classroom began in 1997 when I was one of eight Nebraska teachers who were part of a rural initiative sponsored by the National Writing Project and the Annenberg Challenge. The NeWP group met with several other rural writing project sites across the nation and was called Rural Voices, Country Schools. Because of this, I have had the opportunity to attend and present at several national conferences and to work with other rural teachers across the NWP network. This work has been recognized with several state and national awards.
I also served as a Co-Director of the NeWP for several years and am now a member of the NeWP Advisory Board.
I am very grateful for the opportunities that working with Dr. Brooke and the NeWP have given me. I believe that teachers are accustomed to working without reward or recognition for our work. I am so glad that the NeWP seeks to involve teachers in a wider network of teachers and helps their work to have audiences beyond the classroom. I have many "professional friends" within the NeWP and these contacts and relationships are very important.
This year is the last year for me to teach but I plan to remain involved with the NeWP well into my old age!