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Halifax native teaches creative writing course

Even students who say they hate writing will learn to love it in summer workshops at the Innovation Center in South Boston taught by Halifax native Lavinia “Bebo” Edmunds, a teacher and writer who specializes in writing and reading.

“There is so much focus on the SOLS and SATs and all kinds of testing, student creativity gets lost in the shuffle,” said Edmunds.  “These summer classes are designed to draw out that creativity and involve students in the writing process.”

One weeklong class, from June 24-28, creative writing for high school students will feature interactive exercises, role-playing and journal writing, as students write poetry, rap and short stories.  

Students also will develop personal essays that could be used for college applications.  While the focus is not writing for college admission, any college-bound student enrolled in the class will receive advice and models for the best college essays in a special one-on-one session.

For middle school students who enjoy fantasy stories, there is a two-week class July 8-19 in which students will create their own fantasy books, using classics ranging from “Harry Potter” to “Space Odyssey,” as inspiration and models.  Based at the state-of-the-art facilities of the Innovation Center, students will write, edit and publish their own books. 

“It is wonderful to be able to meet at the Innovation Center, which is in itself inspiring,” said Edmunds.

“I am really looking forward to this class.  Students are so imaginative.  I love reading their work and helping them develop ideas.  With all the electronics available, you sometimes forget the simplicity and beauty of expressing yourself in print.”

Edmunds, who has a Masters in journalism from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, first became interested in teaching children writing when she taught creative writing for a year at C.H. Friend Elementary School through a one-time grant many years ago.  She used the techniques from “Wishes, Lies and Dreams,” by the late Kenneth Koch, a well-known poet who taught inner city children how to write beautiful poetry by using the work of great writers as models.  When that grant ran out, she pursued a career in journalism, working for the Frederick News Post, Washington Star and Associated Press and as contributing editor for many magazines.

“The experience of teaching at C.H. Friend was one of the most rewarding things I’d ever done.  I remember boys in the class would claim to hate poetry, but as they started to write about things they really cared about, they would hand in these amazing things anonymously, because they didn’t want to let on they were enjoying it. I still have the little book that we created from that class,” Edmunds said.

The fact is, once students understand the elements of literature, like setting and plot, and create it themselves, they improve writing and understanding that is so critical to the analysis required in their upper level English classes, said Edmunds.

Edmunds lives in Baltimore, Md. with her husband, John Hannaway, and daughter Emma. During the fall and spring, she teaches writing at Towson University and Community College of Baltimore County and does writing on psychology, education and uranium mining issues. Having earned teaching certification from Goucher College, she taught in Baltimore County public schools for seven years. With training in special education and the Orton Gillingham method, she works with students with writing and reading disabilities as well as upper level college students in her tutoring business, Ledmundstutoring.wordpress.com. 

She is staying in Halifax for the summer with her daughter who will be performing at The Prizery in “Oliver” and “Legally Blonde.”

For registration, go to http://registration.svhed.org