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.
Spoken Word Project at Asbury Park High School
We are thrilled to have begun an eight-week spoken word project with the public speaking class at Asbury Park High School. We’ve invited three spoken word artists—Christian Elijah, Philip J. Curtis, and Mychal Mills of KYDS—to help lead the workshops. Not only are they inspiring the students each week with performances, but they are also helping guide students on how to write a spoken word piece. We are only in the generating phase of the project, but already students are writing and sharing pieces that speak their truths and express who they are and how they feel. We are grateful to Christine Demarsico, who is one of our Teacher Ambassadors, for welcoming us into her class!
Embrella Passport to Education
On Friday, October 23, we participated in embrella‘s Passport to Education, a virtual networking event providing academic and employment resources for foster care families. With a mix of adolescents and adults in attendance, we used the guiding theme of our current “obsessions” to generate a list. Then we took one item off that list and created another list. From there, we looked at what popped out at us and freewrote off of that, exploring unearthed ideas and stories. We are grateful for our partnership with embrella and look forward to more workshops together in the future.
College Essay Workshop at RBR
A panel of PWN instructors recently presented a College Essay Info Session for more than 40 students of Red Bank Regional High School. We discussed what college admissions officers are looking for in a college essay and our process for coaching the writing of them. We also offered some brainstorming activities to get started. For more than six years, we have provided free college essay support to qualifying RBR seniors, and this event helped us connect with students who are now receiving this service. Thank you to the RBR Buc Backers and The SOURCE for giving us the space to provide this invaluable program!
Teacher Writing Collaborative
Our Teacher Writing Collaborative continued in October as teachers from various high schools shared how they are navigating virtual and hybrid teaching experiences. Not only does this group provide the emotional support teachers need right now, but they also share lesson plans and virtual platforms that are working. Recently one teacher shared how she uses Google’s Jamboard, an interactive whiteboard system, to help engage all students in a lesson. We heard from another teacher that she adopted this platform into her own class and has found it so beneficial! Our Teacher Writing Collaborative meets every other Thursday (4:30 to 5:30 p.m.) and is open to teachers of all grades and backgrounds. Our next class is Thursday, November 5. Register here.
PWN Teen Instagram
Teens can find everything they need to support their writing life on our new PWN Teen IG, including writing resources, inspiring prompts, reading recommendations, and more! We are even hosting weekly Teen Takeovers, during which one teen shares a week in their writing life on our story. (Each Takeover is saved as a highlight bubble on our profile.) Join this amazing community of teen writers on Instagram by following us here! (If you’d like to join our Teen Ambassador Program [ages 13+] or are interested in how to become the next Teen Takeover on our IG, please email program coordinator Lisa Hartsgrove at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Shore House (Long Branch)
We had a wonderful time celebrating the Shore House writers at their Writers Celebration earlier this month. We are so proud to be able to showcase some of the magic we get to see from these writers in their latest anthology, Beyond the View. We have continued writing with members every Thursday and we love what they come up with! This week, we had a class on National Cat Day (October 29) so we used the day to inspire our work. We watched “Cat Poem,” by Los Angeles Team (Brave New Voices), to kick us off, and then we made lists before jumping into our stories. The first list was of any words that reminded us of cats (or the animal of each writer’s choice), and the second was a list of memories that involved the animal each writer chose. Then we pulled from both of our lists to write insPURRational stories! One writer chose to write from the perspective of her dog, another wrote about what her cat sees when she goes outside, and another wrote about lions and why they mean so much to him. We always love working with Shore House!
Red Bank Public Library
The Red Bank Public Library journaling class meets two Mondays a month. During October’s first session, we talked about the importance of keeping a journal and committing to writing at least one sentence a day to ground the self in an uncertain world. Using David Sedaris’ “Theft by Finding” and Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Valentine for Ernest Mann,” we explored finding the lovely in the ordinary. The class wrote to the prompts: “What did you give up long ago that was bad for you?” and “What/who are you grateful for that will get you through tomorrow?” During the second session, we did some exercises to call about our muse. We started with the prompt: “Where do you need freedom in your life?” We then completed the sentence—after speaking with our muse on the page—”I am here and I am …” Writers were encouraged to play with this message, decorating with markers, crayons, even glitter, before placing the sentence above their desk, in their journal, or on their fridge.
“Womyn’s Worth” mentoring program at Lunch Break
We had a lively discussion this month with Womyn’s Worth in response to The New York Times article by Megan Thee Stallion, “Why I Speak Up for Black Women.” Feel free to read this amazing article and start a discussion with the women in your world. A discussion about what it truly means to be a woman of color today and how we can make positive change moving forward. Some of the responses to the question of hope:
I will never yield to despair; hope is alive in me.
Looking from the outside in is temporary; looking from the inside out is forever.
Hope is in the asking, “How can we move forward together from the inside out?”
I always think first; hope springs eternal.
Teen Writing Group
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 skipping, art, serenity, haunt, and Halloween! 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! 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 full 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. Since March, we have provided 36 adult and 21 youth/teen seats totaling more than $10,750 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.