For my entire career as a teacher of English, I have supported the writing of others. I have provided them with tools they needed to shape their vision and I have learned how to form supportive and nurturing writing communities.
Two summers ago, I gave myself a wonderful gift. I applied to attend the 2007 Writers Retreat for Committed Women Writers. sponsored by A Room of Her Own Foundation
To my surprise and delight I was accepted and traveled to Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico.
At this retreat, I found a talented and supportive group of women, writers all, who came together in this beautiful, inspiring setting to write, share what we’d written with each other and provide thoughtful feedback in a positive, generous and generative community.
I met many women at the retreat and listened to their stories. I learned of the roles that writing plays in their lives. I met women whose work had been published to acclaim and women whose words had yet to reach an audience. Each woman spoke of the importance of this time and space to think, to feel, to write, to connect, to listen, to dive into our selves, to discover ourselves anew.
For me it was especially important that this was a writing retreat for women only. It was a “room of our own” – a space where we could be together not only as writers, but as women — whose struggles to find our voices or to steal the time to write from our other responsibilities as mothers or partners or daughters — were not considered trivial or beside the point, but very much at the center of our identities.
I also met other teachers. Many of them were from from independent schools whose administrations had paid their tuition and expenses for the retreat. As part of a policy of professional development, these schools invest in the personal and professional growth of their teachers with an unwavering belief that if they nurture their teachers, their students will benefit as well. No such opportunities that I know of, exist for teachers in under-funded urban and rural public schools.
On the final night of the retreat, all of the women gathered together. There was a reading by some of the women and then we were all invited to share our thoughts about the experience. At that time, overwhelmed by the energy in the room and grateful that I had been able to be part of such an amazing experience, I vowed to raise money for a scholarship for a public school teacher to attend the next retreat in 2009.
The biannual retreat is being held August 10-16 2009. I am happy to say that through the donations of friends and family, I have raised enough money to make this scholarship a reality.
Here is the information about the scholarship as it appears on the AROHO web-site:
The Pincus Scholarship for Public School Teachers was created by Marsha Pincus, who recently retired from teaching after thirty four years. A retreatant at the 2007 Writers’ Retreat, Marsha was inspired “to create a scholarship for a public school teacher from an under-funded district to come and have this experience.” She says, “I gave myself a gift coming here. I would like to give that gift to other teachers.” The scholarship will provide workshop tuition, room and board, as well as an additional stipend to offset transportation costs.
If you are someone who has been spending so much of your creative energy nurturing the writing of others and you have always wanted to have others nurture and support you, and you teach in a district that does not support your professional growth through study and travel grants, I encourage you to review the materials on the AROHO website and apply for the retreat and the scholarship. You should follow the guidelines for the application to the retreat and complete the additional text field for the scholarship, explaining why you think you qualify, outlining your writing history, writing goals, the potential benefit of the scholarship to you and a statement of financial need. Applications are due by March 5 and the final decision will be made by the AROHO committee by the end of the month.
If you have any questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please circulate this information to any listserve, teacher network or individual you think might be interested.