The Power of Story

Last month I began going to the local continuation high school at the end of the day for drop-in writing sessions. The Wednesday before winter break, two African American students showed up. We talked about books and school for a bit, then I gave them each a sheet of binder paper, a pencil and we began. I tossed out some 2 minute writing prompts: “door,” “happiness,” “second grade.”

They both made involuntary little gasps with that last prompt, then began furiously writing.

Here’s E.A.

2nd grade was a tough year. Not for me, but for outsiders. Those who didn’t fit in. Weren’t cool. 2nd grade I loved to rule the school. Be the boss. You either stood behind me or bside me, but never in front. I was dominant. And I did what I want. 2nd grade I had a little brother to watch over. You mess with him, you mess with me. But I swear I wasn’t a bully. Just a girl trying to find her voice. Just wanting to be heard, because as soon as school got out, I was ignored.

And this is from D.H. (who happens to have an infant at home):

Second grade is the worse grade, the grade I was transformed into a mean slime ball, the grade I was teased in, the grade I almost got kidnapped in, the grade where I became stressed, the grade where I set my life goals, the grade I moved to North Carolina, the grade I met new people, the grade that I cried the most in, the grade I experienced a drunk driver, the grade I got into a car with a 12 year old, the grade I felt stranded, the grade that made me hurt, the grade I felt unusual pain, the grade I had to repeat.

Writing down our stories matters – finally, a chance to be heard.

About katemccarrollmoore

Kate Moore’s passion is literacy, and she serves as a mentor teacher and staff developer throughout the greater Bay Area. Kate served three terms as the City of San Ramon's Poet Laureate (2012-2018); she also teaches poetry writing workshops and is an instructor in the Master of Arts in Teacher Leadership (MATL) program at St. Mary’s College of California. She was honored as SRVUSD Teacher of the Year in 2007 and San Ramon Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year in 2009. Kate holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice from California State University, East Bay, an M.A. in Teacher Leadership from St. Mary’s and a B.A. in English Education from SUNY Albany. She and Bob Moore are the proud parents of four beautiful grown daughters, and the smitten grandparents of six beautiful children who fill them with hope for the future.
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