Here’s what we’ve been up to this past month! 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 spent our time with the 8th grade AVID students helping them write
personal statements for their applications to the four-year academies at Red Bank Regional High School. With 7th grade, we brought back a favorite prompt based on George Ella Lyon’s poem “Were I’m From.” Students drafted their own “Where I’m From” poems, which we will be turning into an epic poem that will be featured in our next issue of Bridge Ink
, our online young adult literary magazine.
On November 19, we brought in a special guest–our intern Christian–to lead a gratitude workshop with our 7th grade students. Christian did an amazing job talking to the students about negative self-talk and the ways in which “junk food thinking” can get in our way. We talked about how to shift our brains into the attitude of gratitude and how that can begin the wave effect–What are you grateful for? How does that make you feel? How does that help you? And how does that help others? We continued the gratitude project
on November 26 as we wrote gratitude letters with the RBMS 6th, 7th, and 8th grade AVID classes. The 8th graders surprised us by writing
a letter to PWN! We are so grateful for our RBMS students!
On November 2, the Girl Scout troop from Saint Leo the Great visited our studio to write with us so they could earn their Scribe patch! We read “A House Called Tomorrow,” by Alberto Ríos, and then created lists of what makes up our “houses”–things we like, adjectives that describe us, hobbies, activities, values, goals, etc. We pulled these thoughts off of our lists to craft original poetry full of imagery and insight. Then we ended the session with a Write-a-Thon! The girls were so excited to write and share their work with us. We can’t wait until they come back again!
College Essay at Red Bank Regional High School
We’ve been continuing helping our former students from Red Bank Middle School with their college essays on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the SOURCE. We knew they were strong writers but we are equally impressed with their dedication to revising and polishing their essays for submission. It’s been a pleasure working with these students again!
At Shore House this month, we read “How to Paint a Donkey,” by Naomi Shihab Nye. Then we wrote our own “How To” poems–but we put a gratitude twist on the prompt. Instead of just writing how to do something, we wrote about how to allow ourselves to accept gratitude. We talked about how much easier it is to give gratitude than it is to receive, so we used our writing time today to practice receiving. At the end, we each wrote something we are grateful for and added it to our gratitude jar. We are so thankful for Shore House!
21st Century Community Learning Center (Long Branch)
We’ve been having so much fun writing picture books with 3rd graders in the 21st century STEAM after-school program. Each week, we read a mentor text, including Mother Bruce; Oh, Nuts!, The Bad Seed, and Finding Winnie. Then we discussed sources for creative inspiration and the emotional component of stories. We also brainstormed characters and settings–what did their character want, how were they going to get it, and what obstacles would they need to overcome–and explored how illustrations help tell the story. Students are now on their way to creating their own picture books. We can’t wait to read them!
Teen Anxiety: Community Conversation & Panel Discussion
On November 12, our executive director, Jennifer Chauhan, participated in a panel discussion facilitated by the SOURCE at Red Bank Regional High School that was held at the Little Silver Woman’s Club. Jennifer spoke about the importance of journaling as an effective way to not only alleviate stress but also gain deeper insight into ourselves. Attendees each received a journal and then did some stream-of-consciousness freewriting before sharing with one another. We are grateful for our partnership with the SOURCE and the opportunity to be a part of an important conversation.
A Workshop for Parents of Children with Special Needs
On the third Monday of the month, we co-host a workshop with SoulShine Studios at the Bungalounge in the Bugalow Hotel in Long Branch. This month, after yoga and meditation led by Jennifer Borenius, we read the poem “When Giving Is All We Have,” by Alberto Rios, and then freewrote on the idea of giving. In our discussion, we reflected on the importance of giving to ourselves and made a plan to write gratitude letters to ourselves. We love how this group has grown and look forward to our next session on Monday, December 16.
Tween Writing Group
For our first class in Fall Session II Tween Writing
Group, we created inspiration bags. We filled our bags with magazine clippings and phrases that could inspire our writing
. Then we pulled from our bags to create our own individual writing
prompts for the weeks ahead. For our second class, we began filling our gratitude jar with things we are thankful for. Then, in our last class before Thanksgiving, our tween writers filled our chalkboard with things they are grateful for. We wrote gratitude letters–some to our friends, one to herself, and one to the color blue. We love the way their creativity and appreciation have combined in our gratitude project
! What an incredible group of tween writers!
Lunch Break Womyn’s Worth Group
This month at Lunch Break with the Womyn’s Worth mentoring group, we continued with our gratitude-themed writing. We began by reading Albert Rios’ poem “When Giving Is All We Have” and then reflected about what giving means to us. After sharing, we jotted down names of people we are thankful for and began drafting handwritten thank you letters that we will give to them in the upcoming weeks. We are so thankful for our partnership with Lunch Break and the opportunity to work with these inspiring women!