When I was 21, teaching art and English, I corralled a class of leather-jacketed teenage motorcyclists into creating their own album designs using the bright graphics, fat letters and high-contrast artwork they’d seen on the Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Led Zeppelin covers. Then, we made plaster casts of faces, a mucky process that focused their energies (and kept them immobile, breathing through straws while the plaster set). Over the years, my graduate classes in university have organized their own writing salons, on-the-spot literary reading tours (Halifax, St. John’s), performance pieces-as-final-paper, and research observations in rubber boots near the shores at Peggy’s Cove.
Teaching challenges and delights me.
I’ve taught at most levels in public schools, colleges, and universities, including English and learning skills at the former Mount Royal College, writing skills in a penitentiary, and education courses at several Canadian and Australian universities (as a visiting scholar). I’ve taught courses in qualitative research (ethnography, arts-based research), writing, and feminist inquiry in the Education and Women’s Studies programs at Mount Saint Vincent University since the early 1990s. I’ve worked with exceptional master’s- and doctoral-level students in Canada and abroad.
In the early 1980s; I co-founded Wordsmith Associates and taught clear writing in the oil industry and government offices (I recall late nights drafting “The Clarity Formula” in the basement of our bungalow). Our travels took us across northern Alberta and inside the Arctic Circle. (Hint: city heels and muskeg don’t mix). Since moving from Alberta to Nova Scotia, I’ve been a writing consultant to government, industry, legal firms, and community groups—as a writer, editor, and community-builder. Now I work primarily with people Margaret Laurence called ‘the tribe’ – poets and nonfiction writers (memoir, personal and lyric essay, creative nonfiction, and scholarly narratives/poetic inquiry).
Like many teachers, I teach to learn. Grief, loss, family stories, finding courage and finding a way, life as a woman, aging– these topics inform my teaching and my own essays and poetry. My low-residency studies in grief, loss, and memoir taught me to read and write deeply in those fields. As a result, I’ve developed a repertoire of innovative ways to support writers at all stages. (See LifeLines on this site for information about memoir workshops and coaching).
In 2014, I was the recipient of Mount Saint Vincent University’s Teaching Innovation Award.
Educator, teacher, instructor, mentor, consultant, workshop leader, trainer, faculty, supervisor, coach, lecturer, reader, listener, nudger, cheerleader – I am all of these. And lucky to be.
My education includes a Bachelor’s Degree (Education), a Master of Arts, a low-residency master’s-level program in poetics and philosophy (In the Field), and a Ph.D. in Reading and Writing processes (University of New Hampshire, ethnography studies at Harvard). I’ve also been awarded two artist residencies at the Banff School of Fine Arts. Contact me for my full C.V. (writing or academic).