I attended the annual Student Awards Luncheon yesterday at Drury’s School of Education and Early Child Development. I had nothing to do with it but as adjunct faculty of that school and poet laureate for Drury I get invited to nice things. I watched as nine young graduating teachers received awards for outstanding work during their student careers. Several of the awards are named for friends of mine — Wanda Gray, Polly Copper, Sharon Price, Dan Beach.
On the way home I made my way through snarled traffic around another campus, Missouri State University, and was reminded that these special ceremonies to celebrate smart and dedicated college graduates are taking place all over America. It’s a good feeling. The media keeps us up to date on trivia, trash, and tragedy. But yesterday I sat in a room watching great representatives of the next generation being recognized for the marks they’ve already made, and I felt better about our world than I have in a while.
My responsibilities as poet laureate for Drury University include hosting events meant to stimulate interest in writing among students in elementary, middle, and high schools. One of our most successful ones was in 2008. It was billed as “A Celebration of Writing.” Partnering with Drury, MOREnet, and Springfield Public Libraries, we used videoconferencing and web streaming, plus live audiences of Springfield students from Boyd, Pipkin, and Central, to reach elementary, middle, and high school students in roughly 40 classes in four states.
I stood on stage in Lay Hall on the Drury campus and talked to live audiences for each of the three groups. On each occasion there were classes of students on the screen above my head so I could look up at them; and other kids, who were attending via steaming, were could watch and send questions during the session. Dr. Lauren Edmondson, interim director of the School of Education and Child Development, assisted and handed me questions that were e-mailed or texted in. I hasten to point out that the picture shows us on a different occasion and that is NOT an alcoholic beverage in our glasses!
Laurie, by the way, was my writing partner for another Drury project, LET’S WRITE THIS WEEK WITH DAVID HARRISON. For that one we created twenty 4-minute videos of me giving writing tips (getting ready, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and making it better). To complete the kit we wrote a teacher’s guide and a student writing journal. http://www.phoenixlearningresources.com/Let_s_Write___This_Week_with_David_Harrison-details.aspx.
Laurie and I have decided the time has come to reprise “A Celebration of Writing” and are planning it for late April. If you or someone you know might be interested in learning more as we go, please let me know to add you to the list. At this point I don’t know how far we can reach with the streaming. On a previous occasion I think we had kids in eleven states tuned in, but I’m still in the stage of exploring what’s possible for this event.
We followed Dr. Bond around the campus like so many ducklings as she pointed out the multitude of plants that flourished there. I paid scant attention. At the time I was far more interested in fauna than flora. I still love animals but these days I wish I had paid more attention to plants. Today I think they are fascinating.
I’m focusing on the poetry workshop next week in Honesdale but today I look forward to speaking to the Advanced Writers Workshop at Drury, which is part of this year’s Writing Center program: Writers Talk, Brown Bag Lunches. The course is taught by professor Jo Van Arkel who is a fine writer.
Sorry to be so brief in my posts lately but it’s crunch time on several fronts, not the least of which is getting my hair cut before facing all those poets next week!