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Helping Students Articulate Their Voices

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Posted on Wednesday, June 16, 2021, at 9:02 AM


Here at Vermont Adult Learning, when a student is seeking help with their writing, Meg is the go-to person. Whether it be a research paper, a creative work, or a persuasive essay, Meg says she strives to help students articulate their thoughts onto paper. In addition, Meg teaches grammar and special classes in her areas of expertise: gender studies, race and ethnic studies, and art history. 

Meg grew up in Rochester, New Hampshire, and attended Bates College where she studied Art and English. She went on to teach second grade in Phoenix, Arizona, through Teach for America and later received a Master’s in Fine Arts from the University of Southern Maine. Meg says she was happy to return to New England after her time out west, as well as eager to leave the mainstream education system. She spent some time working in a preschool and later a therapeutic high school. There, she thrived in the small classroom environment where she could work with students one-on-one, addressing both educational and personal goals. Before settling down at VAL, Meg also took some time to work on her own creative works and traveled abroad in Thailand. Through all these experiences, Meg learned she is most content when teaching in a nontraditional manner. 

When asked why she likes working at VAL, Meg explains that she particularly loves teaching adults because they are “self-directed.” Working at VAL, she says, helps break down the typical hierarchical power structure of a classroom. She feels she is her students’ equal, and that rather than simply feeding them information, she is instead sharing her knowledge with people who want to learn. Further, Meg and her students have relatable experiences they share. For example, she often finds herself caring for her new daughter as some of her students also take care of their children. They are able to connect through these experiences, helping the teacher-student relationship flourish. 

When it comes to a work-life balance, Meg says she keeps her schedule flexible and adaptable. Her largest focus at the moment is her seven-month-old daughter Minerva, or Minnie for short. When Minnie needs her, Meg is with her. When Meg finds herself with free moments she focuses on drawing, writing, painting, or spending time with her husband cooking or baking in their kitchen. She also loves to read philosophy, poetry, fiction, and graphic novels. Poetry, she says, is especially impactful when it, “engages all layers of the human.” For Meg, Ode by Joshua Bennett fits this criterion. For work, she has no rules when it comes to her schedule. She accomplishes tasks as they need to be done and will work at any hour of the day for her students. Meg says, “I don’t mind looking at one of their papers at midnight because maybe I won’t get to look at their stuff during normal working hours.” 

Meg appreciates how VAL allows her to work, while also supporting her personal endeavors. This October, Meg’s new book, A Comic Year, will be released. The story is unique in that it combines graphics and poetry to tell her story of coping after a breakup, working through loneliness, and most importantly finding herself through the struggles of being a young woman. As she explains, the book is written for young people to know they are not alone. “Becoming who you are is confusing,” she says. However, if you can work through these strifes, “A lot is waiting for you on the other side.” After spending around three years on this project, Meg is proud of what she has accomplished. Presale for the novel will begin later this June — be sure to check it out!

This profile was written by Sarah Plaut, VAL Development & Marketing Intern.

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