The Power of Community

Hello Writing Teachers!

Early in my career, I taught in a poor, rural school district. Middle school and high school students were housed in one building. Because the area had so few resources, that school building was the community’s heart. Students ate breakfast and lunch at the school every weekday, even in the summers. Every student showed up at the school for every sports event, every club meeting, every carnival, and every dance. There was nothing else to do. Political meetings, religious services, civic functions, and support groups convened at the school. There was nowhere else to meet. A palpable sense of community pervaded that school and all the people who were lucky enough to work there. I’ve been chasing that sense of community in my career ever since.

During my tenure at various high schools, community colleges, and universities, my students and I have worked on service learning assignments to build a sense of community with each other and with our towns. Fellow writing teachers and I have written articles and made presentations together to build a sense of community within our departments. I’ve joined with teachers from other disciplines to examine how to empower local communities through students’ work and to build a sense of community across our campuses. All of that community building has enriched my teaching and my life.

That’s why I’m looking forward to this year’s Transitioning Symposium. An empowering sense of community promises to pervade everything we do at Transitioning. Dickie Selfe’s presentation will help us understand the role of technology in building community. Lil Brannon’s mapping of student writing will show us the kinds of communities our students engage with on a daily basis. Most importantly, discussions among Mississippi teachers like you and like me will build community among writing teachers throughout the state. Our students and our state will be the beneficiaries, and I can’t wait to get started.

Looking forward to meeting you in October,
Karen Forgette

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