Here’s what we’ve been up to this past month via Zoom! If you are interested in bringing a program to your school or organization, email Jennifer Chauhan at email@example.com.
Red Bank Middle School
We are so happy to be back at Red Bank Middle School, meeting virtually every Wednesday with 7th and 8th grade students in the AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) program. To reintroduce ourselves, we began by sharing our own “Pieces of Ourselves,” and then asked our students to do the same. We used guiding questions, such as “I am not me without … I feel the most like me when I am … Every day I need to … One day I hope to … I no longer need … I’m stronger because … I know better and do better now because … I dream of … I like / I used to like … I love / I used to love …” and more. We were so happy when students volunteered to share some of their answers! More recently, we explored gratitude writing, starting with a list and then moving into letter writing. We were surprised when half the class said they’d never written or received a handwritten letter! Reviving this lost art has brought all of us such joy, as the students expressed how powerful a personal note would mean to them. We hope to help send some of these letters soon and can’t wait to tell you about the impact we know they will have both on the senders and the receivers!
21st Century Community Learning Center (Long Branch)
We are back writing with 3rd graders in the after-school program in Long Branch. The students are virtual, but we pop into their virtual meeting from 3:30 to 4:30 every Wednesday to provide an hour of joy writing for them. With notebooks and pens in hand, the children eagerly respond to prompts and “try-its” that will help them find a meaningful life story to write about in booklets. We are focusing on strategies that help us tell a story in the moment instead of summarizing the story. The children are eager to share on screen and are truly engaged, so we can’t ask for more!
Spoken Word Project at Asbury Park High School
In November, we focused on the generative phase of our Spoken Word Project with the public speaking class at Asbury Park High School. Each class opened with a mindfulness practice led by Mychal Mills of KYDS to help ground us so we could dig deeper with our writing. Then spoken word artist Christian Elijah used thought-provoking prompts on themes of victory and gratitude to help students explore their ideas. Students are working on their first drafts, which they will share during our next class. We look forward to seeing what they came up with!
Teacher Writing Collaborative
Even though the teachers in our Teacher Writing Collaborative come from various districts and have different virtual/hybrid experiences, one thing we all have in common is the need to support one another through this unprecedented school year. In addition to sharing strategies and resources, we’ve also appreciated the time to take a breath and write together. Self care for teachers is so important right now, and we are grateful for this group that provides so much love and empathy to one another. Our next Teacher Writing Collaborative class is Thursday, December 3. All are welcome. Register here.
PWN Teen Instagram
We’ve been having a blast watching the teens take over our Instagram stories on our PWN Teen IG! Want a glimpse into the life of a teen writer? Then follow us here, and be sure to check out past Teen Takeovers in the highlight bubbles on our profile! Though this is a teen account, teens and adults alike can benefit from our writing resources, inspiring prompts, reading recommendations, and more! (If you are interested in becoming the next Teen Takeover on our IG, please email program coordinator Lisa Hartsgrove at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Shore House (Long Branch)
Members of Shore House have also been focusing on the theme of gratitude. We began making gratitude lists, and then we pulled one name from our list to create a new list. Under our second list, we zeroed in on what we are so thankful for about that specific person, including meaningful memories and moments. We used our second list to guide us as we began drafting letters of thanks that we plan to send. One writer wrote to her sister, another to her mom, another to Shore House, and one to a friend from 20 years ago. We can’t wait to hear the outcome of this beautiful expression of love and gratitude!
Red Bank Public Library
With The Red Bank Public Library writers this month, we took a page from Matthew Dick’s “Storyworthy” to develop some ideas for journaling with intent. We created a grid with First, Last, Best, and Worst, and then we inserted prompts like: kiss, car, gift, pet, injury, trouble. Try it yourself and see what seeds germinate into fully developed stories! It’s always a pleasure writing and sharing our work together. Until next time, keep observing everything in your line of vision. It’s all fodder for story!
“Womyn’s Worth” mentoring program at Lunch Break
This month with the “Womyn’s Worth” program at Lunch Break, we watched memoirist Casey Gerald’s Ted Talk, “Embrace Your Raw Strange Magic.” Wow! If you haven’t seen it, check it out here. We wrote in response to Casey’s message to be yourself in spite of well-intended mandates from friends, family, and society. Mandates that sometimes push our inner selves further beyond our grasp, leading to unhappiness and disconnection. Lunch Break’s Sharda Jewanti shared a quote by St. Catherine of Sienna to solidify our life lesson told through Casey Gerald: “Be who you were created to be, and you will set the world on fire.” We are so grateful for this spiritual experience beyond compare!
Teen Writing Group
Our teen writers have been going the extra mile this session, coming up with unique prompts to keep everyone inspired and writing week after week. Some of our favorites this month include: using a word generator to inspire their work and help them expand their vocabulary; sharing a Google doc with all to collaboratively inspire one another’s works; and using song lyrics from their favorite musicians as openings for new works. These teens always have fresh ideas and constantly inspire us! If you’d like to learn more or sign up for our next session of Teen Writing Group, click here.
Friday Lunchtime Write-In
Every Friday, we meet on Zoom from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. to write in response to prompts on a designated theme. This month we’ve explored themes on kindness and Friday the 13th! After generating our drafts, we spend time sharing what we’ve written. We always enjoy hearing one another’s pieces and have formed an incredible, supportive community of writers. Join us for our next Lunchtime Write-In to discover what our upcoming theme will be, or join us for our special Lunchtime Write-In: Second Helpings on Friday, December 11, for an extended three-hour session! *All proceeds support our community outreach programs.
Through our mission as a nonprofit organization, we assist in removing barriers to participating in our studio classes by providing full and partial scholarship seats as well as payment plans. Since the pandemic began, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the need for financial assistance and therefore have met that need by offering more scholarship seats. In 2020, we have provided 48 adult and 28 youth/teen seats totaling nearly $15,000 in scholarships. The students who did not have to leave or who wanted to start taking classes have expressed how incredibly grateful they are for this support. For information about our scholarship program or to become a valuable donor providing these seats, please email Jennifer Chauhan at email@example.com.