Two halves fill in a Creative Writing hole

Two+halves+fill+in+a+Creative+Writing+hole

At the start of this school year, Creative writing burst back to the stage. As a fun elective that most schools offer, Creative writing has been missing from Timpview’s class list for 23 years. When the opportunity presented itself, creative writing was eagerly taken up by Mrs. Rebekah Crawley, a relatively new teacher who has taught freshman English at Timpview since she started, 4 years ago.

When asked how the class reappeared from thin air, Crawley explained that during a conversation with Van Orden about classes, “[Van Orden] asked if I was interested in a creative writing class, and I was thrilled… I don’t know how Mrs. Van Orden pulled it off but she’s really the one who managed to get it… She used to teach [creative writing] and she had the [Creative writing] club—I sold a prep too, so I taught an extra class so that we didn’t have to lose any of our core English classes.”

So in other words, Van Orden, the original creative writing teacher, worked her magic behind the scenes to create an opportunity for Crawley. Crawley in turn sacrificed her only prep period from her full schedule of 9th grade English classes. With the paperwork done and the schedule rearranged, the school district relented and helped pull creative writing from it’s long vacation.

With the shift from the tried and true freshman English classes that Crawley had come to know and love, she thrived in the new environment. Looking back, Crawley says, “I think it exceeded my expectations. I was really nervous, I hadn’t taught 11th graders since my first year, and I really liked it … It was fun to work again with 11th and 12th graders cause they’re funny, and … the class being an elective just adds a lot more fun and freedom to it and we had a fun community last semester so it was a really, really good start, so it was encouraging to me to even extend it to a full year for next year.” The change allowed her to work with kids who chose to be in her class, and had waited for most of high school for this class and pursue their dreams.

One of the only problems with the class was how short it was. As a one semester class, the class had to get through the units as quickly as possible, cutting short the students’ experiences when they could have put twice as much effort into their projects. Crawley says, “I feel like it’s hard to get as much as we did in one semester, so I’m glad that we’re going to a full year now to expand and get more time, but I think considering that it was a semester class, we were able to get through a lot and do a good job.”

The change from a half year to a full year course wasn’t entirely seamless, though. Crawley says, “So I don’t know what the reasoning was behind it, but initially we were denied getting it as a full year, but our administration and our English department chair Mrs. Van Orden put some more pressure on it and we didn’t have to put up too much of a fight, I guess they just saw the value of like ‘It’s a creative writing class, we need more writing and having it as a fun elective would be beneficial,’ so actually getting it to a full year was actually pretty easy… It was a weird situation.”

Why might the school district deny the growth of this blossoming new program? Crawley speculates “It might’ve been a concern of having english electives when we needed more english core classes, having a teacher teach more 9th grade english classes is more important than having a creative writing class. Like a core class is more important than having an elective.” So, it appears that there isn’t any specific vendetta against Creative Writing, the school district just wanted to prioritize the teachers working on core classes rather than electives, as electives are in some ways a drain on teacher’s efforts.

Though the school district seems hesitant to pile extra classes on an understaffed english department, Crawley takes Creative Writing on with zeal, “Take it next year. Like if you’re a junior or sophomore this year, take it next year.” All in all, Creative writing is a great class that has earned its place among the school’s other electives, and the program will grow to be even greater than it was this year, in spite of the School District’s odd obstruction.