Sunday, August 30, 2009

Background on the Writer.

I’m not a certified book expert, if there is such a thing. Instead, I am a normal person with an abnormal obsession with literature. Although, my normalcy might be contested by a few certain people close to me.

I say this in good humor, but I do need to lay out my background for those of you who may be asking, what does this chick really know about literature?

I grew up in suburban metro Detroit. As a kid, I remember both of my parents reading fairly often. My dad read more then as his job as become more stressful over the years and he lacks free time. My mom still reads like a fiend, but we have very differing tastes. She reads a lot of romance, and while I do love a break from reality and a happily ever after, I like to read a variety. But she does offer some good suggestions and one of my favorite series (The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon) is one that she recommended.

As a kid, my mom was always very supportive of my reading. I didn’t lack for want of books and she was always encouraging. I think the only time she ever got mad at me was when I wouldn’t go outside and play instead. I hear stories of parents who aren’t so supportive of their children’s reading habits and it breaks my heart. I was very fortunate.

When I went to college, I knew that I wanted to do something in connection to English. English was always my favorite subject in school, with history being a close second. I threw around the idea of going into publishing before eventually settling on education. I figured that since so many of my English teachers were so instrumental in my love of words, that I could also pass that love on.

I ended up at Michigan State University in the fall of 2003 with my major declared in English. Since I went to MSU with 12 Advanced Placement credits, I decided to declare History as my second major in the fall of that first year. This was an extremely full load and after that first semester, I was always taking at least 19 credits a semester. And I did love it.

I was accepted into the MSU College of Education the spring of my sophomore year at school. So, in addition to my classes for English and history I was also responsible for taking on the credit requirements for my education classes.

And I loved my education classes. I was able to go into classrooms in the Lansing area and begin working with students at the secondary level. I was always surprised by how anti-book so many of those students seemed to be. Many regions of the Lansing area are low-income. Students would come in without showering, with empty stomachs, and incomplete homework. It seemed, from my perspective, that they just didn’t value literature, perhaps because they did not have a support system at home.

I began volunteering at one of the elementary schools in Lansing. I tutored students in the first and second grade in reading. For 2 hours a week, I sat down with these kids and read with them. We read Dr. Seuss, the Berenstain Bears, and everything in between. I think it was in those sessions that I realized that the value of literacy has become very low.
I ended up finishing my student teaching in one of the biggest districts in the state of Michigan. I loved being in front of my students and helping them find book choices. I tried then to stress my own love of literature. The school I was working in did a “stop, drop, and read” program three times a week where the teachers also read with their students. I loved that time of day, when I was reading what I loved and so were the students.

Last year, I was fortunate enough to land a long-term substitute teaching position in a district north of where I live. While I was teaching history, I still stressed reading. I also taught a section of a new study skills class where reading was part of the curriculum. Those kids and I fought tooth and nail over their reading, but once they learned that they could read what they loved they read.

This year I was not so fortunate and I currently don’t have a teaching job. Instead, I am working for the city I live in doing a job that I really love. I’m also getting married to Matt, who I have been dating for over seven years, on December 26 of this year.

I have a lot of challenges ahead of me this coming year. In between looking for a full-time job and planning a wedding, I am taking on this challenge. Not just because it’s something to do, but because I think it’s important. I can think of no better challenge for myself than to read these works and teach.

I suppose that’s me in a nutshell. As always, if there are any questions feel free to ask!

1 comment:

  1. Well all I can say Allie, is that once any one of those school districts, see what you are about to do; they will kick themselves for not having hired you over what they considered an experienced teacher. Having lived here and watched and listened to you during the past few years while you were at MSU, a student teacher and long term substitute teaching, they would be amazed as I was as to the insight and intellect you have. The repour you have with your students and how much they cared and learned from you. On the eve of your start of your odyssey, I want to let you know that you are a very good teacher and many will learn that as they read what you will have to say in the days, months and probably years to come. I can't wait. Mom