Teacher to Teacher
As it turned out, Bob had recently taken a sabbatical from his day job as an English teacher at Highland Park HS in order to put the finishing touches on Hack, a sports biography he was co-writing with his department chair, Jerry Grunska. As you can read in his memoir, Inside Job, Bob had decided not to return to HPHS, but instead to try life as a “freelance teacher.” To help finance this move, Bob was teaching night school at Deerfield HS and wanted someone who could run a movie projector, grade student essays, and worked cheap. So for the chance at $3.00/hr. and the vague possibility of squeezing an independent study out of the Northwestern English Department, I headed off to the Glencoe Study Center for an interview. All I remember of that first meeting was that I was so stuffed up that I was practically comatose. I kept telling him that normally I was a little livelier. Either Bob had a keen eye for talent or the short list was extremely short, but somehow I landed the job.
Thirty-three years and zero Cubs’ World Series appearances later, we’re still together. Aside from being a hot ticket item on the IATE/NCTE gig circuit, Bob and I wrote "Moe’s Café: 48 Decidedly Different Creative Writing Prompts" together. I’m the one in the Highland Park HS English Department now.
When I first came to HPHS in 1982 after brief stops at Maine North (site of The Breakfast Club) and Riverside-Brookfield (next door to the zoo), I taught Creative Writing and felt that all was right in the teaching world. Eight years later Indiana University informed the world that it was no longer accepting Creative Writing as an English credit. HPHS promptly dropped the course. Since then if I’ve wanted to teach creative writing, I’ve had to figure out ways to work it into the confines of a “regular” English course. I have a bunch. So when Bob asked me to start writing a monthly feature for Writing Teacher Hangout, I thought I would start by sharing some of these activities I’ve created over the years.
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