Composed by guest writer Kitty Reifert, L’Anse Creuse High School — North teacher and 2018 Michigan Council of Teachers of English Creative Writing Educator of the Year
One of my fondest memories is attending my very first creative writing workshop. It was a glorious encounter to live, eat, breathe, and sleep creativity for five days and nights along the shore of Lake Huron. I remember my apprehension and excitement as a writer — all these thoughts in my mind, but transferring them onto paper. Yikes, that was scary for me! I learned to accept the comments and refine my craft. I learned to accept the compliments, which encouraged me to look even deeper. I learned to take on the most challenging exercises and let my mind freely flow.
Creative writing truly calls students from all different walks of life. There are students who have been writing creatively for years. There are students who have never creatively written once. There are the strong academic students. There are the struggling academic students. There are the well-grounded students. There are the “walking the tightrope” students. There are the athletes, the techies, the gamers, the loners, the believers and dreamers. These students become my kids in our creative writing family.
At Crusader Nation my greatest joys and surprises come from my kids in creative writing each and every day. I embrace the moments when the crafters truly believe in themselves as writers. I cherish the moments of witnessing their discoveries of voice. Yes, their voice as a crafter of words! I harbor the journeys of discovery as my kids weave their words into poetry or prose. I am ever so humbled to be that teacher who offers guidance, the helping hand, the mentorship into molding promising writers.
Jake VanDenBerg is just one of the multi-talented students that have crossed my path in creative writing over the years. I have watched him from the stands in the hockey rink for four years. He has been the starting goalie during his time on the hockey team. This year, Jake was bestowed the honor of wearing the “C” on his jersey.
I am ever so fortunate that I finally had the opportunity to have Jake in my classroom. I was able to witness the writings of the student whose face was protected by a mask. In creative writing, Jake needed to let his guard down and face his opponents, the pen and paper. He did so like a pro. Jake was willing to take on the challenge of prompts from all angles flying in his direction. He poured his heart, mind, and soul into his crafts.
Jake can now claim many accolades, including being a published writer. He was also selected by the members of the English Department as LCHS-N’s Student of the Month. Jake leaves creative writing with many moments of self-discovery and moves on to his conviction of majoring in forensic biochemistry at Northern Michigan University.
Thank you to Jake and all my former creative writing students for this golden opportunity to witness the challenges, the growth, and the discoveries of being crafters of words. I am enthusiastic to watch the magic unfold in creative writing for the upcoming years!
Kathleen “Kitty” Reifert is a teacher of English, literature and writing at L’Anse Creuse High School - North in Macomb Township. She has taught for 20 years and has been with L’Anse Creuse since 2008. Kitty was recently selected by the Michigan Council of Teachers of English as the Creative Writing Teacher of the Year for 2018. When she is not in the classroom she is a wife, mother and Mimi, and in her free time enjoys photography and crafting poems.