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Gloria Alvarez is a novelist and freelance writer. Her third book, Desert Kiss, won a Latino Literary Hall of Fame award. She has lived in Mexico, Spain, and Indonesia and has worked with WITS for 10 years. A member of Novelists Inc. and the Authors Guild, Gloria holds a B.S. in Spanish from Georgetown University and an M.A. in linguistics from the Ohio State University. In her spare time, she enjoys pottery, knitting, and scuba diving. She lives in Houston with her husband and two teenage daughters.
Kim Anderson has written her whole life, for fun and for work. Her writing tells stories from ordinary people and experiences, usually with humor. These tales are shared with family and friends; although the distribution list is growing through referrals. Kim believes that there are infinite possibilities in language to express what is real or imagined. Professionally, her background is varied. She has a degree BBA (Finance) from UT Austin and a MAT in Curriculum and Instruction from UH Downtown. Teaching is a second career that resulted from over volunteering that somehow turned into tutoring, alternate certification, and a masters. Kim prides herself on connecting with students and works to see that all students achieve at their highest level. Kim's thesis won her Outstanding Graduate Student for her research on academic identities; how they are formed and how this affects student engagement. She worked in HISD for 8 years and is currently on sabbatical to pursue a doctorate in Educational Psychology and Individual Differences.
Megan Applegate writes for (and with) the young and young at heart. A former writer for the El Paso Times and the Anchorage Daily News, she is a graduate of the bilingual MFA program at the University of Texas at El Paso. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Border Senses, Rio Grande Review and Antietam Review and her middle grade novel Jasper and the Fiddlers Three will be released in the fall of 2013. She lives in Katy with her very own Prince Charming and four adorable minions. This is Megan’s first year with WITS.
Miah Arnold is a fiction writer from rural Utah educated at Carleton College, The New School for Social Research, and the University of Houston where she recently earned a PhD in creative writing and literature. Miah also works for UH and Inprint, and has served as a fiction editor at Gulf Coast and a poetry editor at Lyric Poetry Review. She has also been a reporter at the Salt Lake City Tribune, a dog washer, and web programmer. Her stories appear in a number of literary magazines, including Confrontation, Painted Bride Quarterly, and the South Dakota Review. She won a Barthelme Award for nonfiction in 2006 and the Inprint/Diana P. Hobby Award for her fiction at the University of Houston in 2008. She is working on the last draft of a novel and relies heavily on the love and support of her children and her husband Raj.
D’Lynn Barham is an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Houston and a fiction editor at Gulf Coast. A native of Louisiana, she lives in Houston with her three kids. She brings with her a practical pedagogy that comes from raising children and various posts as a pre-school educator. She has a passionate love of reading that ranges from the Homeric classics to contemporary fiction. When she is not tending to her family and graduate studies, D’Lynn likes to sew without patterns, experiment with new bread recipes, and revisit her favorite classic films starring Katharine Hepburn. She has been with WITS for two years.
Dr. Nancy Barnhart joined WITS in 2008 and recently earned her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She has been with WITS since 2008, and her doctoral research focused on the effectiveness of the WITS organization through the writers’ perspective. She has published journal articles in Teachers and Writers, The Ohio Journal of the English Language Arts, The English Record, and RDH National Magazine. In addition to teaching with WITS, she is currently an Adjunct Professor at UH.
Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean is a poet, playwright, writer, electrifying performer, and a spoken word coach who travels the country and performs his written work regularly. Bean has opened for notables Cornel West, Talib Kweli, Buddy Wakefield and Hip-Hop legend M.C. Lyte. Bean’s signature style incorporates vivid writing, sustained energy, comedic crowd interactions, and spoken word into every performance. Emanuelee has been with WITS since 2009.
Layla Benitez-James was born and raised in Austin, Texas. She realized early on that she absolutely loved Texas and studied English, Spanish and creative writing at Trinity University in San Antonio. She was lucky enough to continue her Texas tour in Houston where she is currently an MFA student in the University of Houston’s creative writing program. Layla enjoys riding her horse, Tonka, and reading and writing poetry and short fiction. This is Layla’s first year to work with WITS.
Carolyn Bolton so enjoyed her work as a substitute teacher while an undergraduate economics student that she enrolled in the education program at the University of Houston-Clear Lake where she earned her MS in early childhood education in 2004. While pursuing her graduate degree, she combined her entrepreneurial spirit with her love of literature and opened a children's book store in 2002. After a successful and stressful run, Carolyn sold her business to focus on her family, her writing, and finishing her graduate degree. She joined WITS in 2006 for the opportunity to share the excitement of reading and writing with young children. She is currently working on her first novel and a large sack of possibilities for the second. Carolyn lives in La Porte with her husband of 18 years and their five children.
A Corpus Christi native, Pamela Bond received her degree in journalism writing from the University of North Texas in 2007 and has worked as a reporter and editor for several Texas newspapers in addition to ventures in Europe and Australia. She continued to freelance while earning her master’s degree in creative nonfiction writing from Johns Hopkins University in D.C. After moving to Houston in 2011, she began teaching writing and literature (fiction, poetry, and drama) at San Jacinto College – North and assisting with a graduate course in communicating medical science topics at the University of Texas – Medical Branch. She is also the print editor for Medical Discovery News, a news service that aims to publish promising biomedical science research in an approachable and understandable way. Her current writing projects include a memoir, short story collection, and assortment of independent articles and essays on people, places, or ideas that fascinate her. This is her first year with Writers in the Schools.
Nancy Bonsembiante received a Spanish literature degree from the Ministry of Education in Argentina. She has taught Spanish literature at various middle and high schools and is a private Spanish tutor for adults. She won an Award for Excellence at Houston Community College after completing the ESL program. She has been working for WITS for ten years and has written different poems to use in her classes as well as for personal achievement. She was one of the contributors of Illuminations Book: Expressions of the Personal Spiritual Experience, which approaches the different perceptions of spirituality. Her non-writing interests include dancing, reading, and spending time with her two kids and husband.
Lesa Boutin is a children’s author who discovered a love for every aspect of a book’s life, from concept to completion. With a background in education, Lesa started her own publishing company, Boot in the Door Publications, in 2006, followed by the release of her young adult novels, Amanda Noble, Zookeeper Extraordinaire in 2007, and Amanda Noble, Special Agent in 2008. Lesa enjoys sharing her imagination and passion for storytelling with her students. This is her fifth year with Writers in the Schools.
From rural Iowa, Karie Buss received her BA in English from the University of Iowa and MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. She writes poetry that has appeared in Zero Ducats, Lamination Colony, and La Petite Zineand in 2012, was awarded the Inprint Donald Barthelme Award in Poetry. She currently teaches at HCC NW and Project Row Houses afterschool program. When not writing poetry or teaching, she enjoys writing in her journal, baking, and walking her dog at the arboretum. This is Karie’s first year with WITS.
Thomas Calder is currently working on his MFA in fiction at the University of Houston. In 2008, he received his BA in English from the University of Florida. This is his second year with WITS. In addition, Thomas is a Fiction Assitant Editor at Gulf Coast Magazine, as well as a facilitator at the Writing Center at the Univeristy of Houston.
Chris Cander is a novelist, children’s book author and freelance writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of national publications. Chris graduated from the Honors Program at the University of Houston in 1990 with a BA in French and a minor in Political Science. In 1994, she attended the Ploughshares International Fiction Writer’s Seminar at Kasteel Well, Netherlands. The following year, she attended the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, where she was able to work alongside some of her favorite authors. Chris is a member of of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Author’s Guild, and MENSA. Her children’s picture book, THE WORD BURGLAR, will be published by Bright Sky Press in early 2013. She lives with her family in Houston, Texas. This is her first year to work with Writers in the Schools.
Marcia Chamberlain earned a BA from the College of William and Mary and an MA from Rice University. She has taught with WITS for 15 years. In addition to receiving an Envision Grant from Rice University, she also has won a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Practicum Fellowship, a Teaching Tolerance grant from the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Emerging Filmmaker Grant from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County (now Houston Arts Alliance), and was a finalist for the 2009 Bechtel Prize. She has published essays about medieval nuns and Chicano revolutionaries and is working on a collection of nonfiction.
Carina Christensen is an educational artist from Argentina who gained her first teaching experiences in the cities Buenos Aires and Rosario. While studying Visual Arts and early childhood education, she completed an international life guard certification under the Red Cross and taught swimming to over 500 children each summer for four years. Before coming to the United States, she instructed children and teenagers in yoga, art and spanish in her home town of Rosario. Carina joined WITS in 2003, providing both public and private schools with her creative instruction. She had the honor to work with the Houston Grand Opera in 2012 for a special project with seniors and young kids at various community centers. She was able to present her poetry alongside HGO vocalists and musicians playing argentine tango music. The poems were inspired by her visits with the seniors and children she met at workshops hosted by the Ripley Centers of Houston.Carina has also presented her paintings at M.E.C.A.'s "Mujeres Latinoamericanas" latina art festival. Every year Carina enjoys preparing for new projects such as the "Art and Family" workshop which was sponsored by Target and hosted at Talento Bilingue in Houston Texas.
Sara Cooper comes to Houston from Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she received an M.F.A. in poetry. While there, she directed a college-access program for high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds and taught writing through The Border Book Festival’s Emerging Voices Program, The Women’s Intercultural Center, and Las Cruces’s Writers in the Schools program. Since becoming a Writer in Residence with Houston’s WITS two years ago, she has introduced alternative media to the writing classroom, including filmmaking and blogging through collaborations with the Aurora Picture Show and a Houston-area high school. She currently teaches at the University of Houston, where she is pursuing a PhD in English. Her writing has appeared in The Mid-American Review, Puerto del Sol, and Arizona Highways.
Merrilee Cunningham holds a BA in creative writing from Northwestern University and a PhD in renaissance literature from Vanderbilt University. She is an Associate Professor at the University of Houston-Downtown, and she has won several teaching and poetry awards. Her work has been published in On, Versus, Visions, The Ball State Review, Renaissance and Reformation, The South Central Bulletin of the Modern Language Association, and many other places. She received an honorable mention in the Virginia Poetry Society Awards. Merrilee has been a WITS writer for ten years.
Delicia Daniels is a poet, essayist, and biographer. She received her B.A. in English from Dillard University and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Chicago State University. She is the founder of Dark Symphony, a new literary journal at Wiley College. Her publications most recently appeared in WarpLand, and Cream City Review. Ms. Daniels is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Texas Southern University. This is her first year with WITS.
Florence Sarah Davies is currently an MFA student of Writing & Literature at Stony Brook University in New York. There, she taught for YAWP (The Young American Writers Project) as a Teaching Artist. She received her BA in English-Creative Writing at Texas A&M University. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant at Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters and as a CRLA-certified writing consultant for the Texas A&M University Writing Center. While she doesn't have any pets, she is the proud owner of three or four stealth blogs. Her thesis is a novel-in-progress for young adults. This is Florence’s first year to work with Writers in the Schools.
Ryan Dilbert received an M.F.A. in fiction from Antioch University Los Angeles. He is currently a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and the editor of Shelf Life Magazine. He is the author of Time Crumbling like a Wet Cracker (No Record Press, 2011) and was featured in Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web 2010. He has taught ESL and writing in South Korea, China, Venice Beach and all over Houston. Ryan has been a WITS writer since 2009.
A California native, Mignette Patrick Dorsey is an author, teacher and former journalist. Her book, Speak Truth to Power, the Story of Charles Patrick, a Civil Rights Pioneer, won the Calvin Smith Book Award, as well as the Lone Star College System Published Writing Award. She began her journalism career as a staff reporter for Houston Community Newspapers, and later the Houston Post where she won two national awards for fashion feature stories. After the demise of the Post, she worked freelance and on contract for the Houston Chronicle. She left to enter the world of public relations as a city of Houston spokesperson, followed by a career as a high school Journalism and ELA educator. She currently teaches English at a community college. Dorsey holds an M.A. and B.A. in English Literature from the University of Houston. Mignette has been with WITS since 2008.
Katherine Elliott grew up in Richmond, Virginia and received a BA in literature and art history from the University of Virginia. She attended the University of Houston's MFA program in creative writing. This is her fifth year with WITS.
Dr. Mischa Enos received a B.A. in English from the State University of New York at Binghamton, an M.A. in applied English linguistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an Ed.D. from Harvard Graduate School in Education. She taught ESL and worked as a journalist in the U.S. and abroad before moving to Houston in 2001. Mischa was a research consultant for Harvard and Strategic Education Research Partnership, conducting case studies on the implementation of a vocabulary enrichment curriculum in HISD middle schools. Currently, she is a researcher in adolescent reading comprehension at Children's Learning Institute, UT Health Science Center. Mischa has been a teaching writer with Writers in the Schools (WITS) for seven years.
David Feil earned his BA in English from Rice University and his MA in English from New York University. An avid learner of languages, David has spent time studying around the world and has participated in programs in Reykjavik, Paris, and Vienna, where he also assisted in ESL classrooms. He currently works as an after-school tutor, helping Houston-area middle and high school students with a wide variety of subjects. David has a diverse portfolio of personal and collaborative work that includes writing, visual art, interactive media, and gallery installations. He is also an accomplished musician who has previously performed with internationally renowned artists and in such unique spaces as the Menil Collection's Rothko Chapel and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. David writes and studies poetry and prose with a focus on the imagination and language play. He has been a WITS writer since 2010
Olga Feliciano was born and raised in New York City’s Lower East Side. She began her writing career in the first grade when she became obsessed with the quotation mark. She decided to channel her energy into a series of comic books with her best friend in the second grade and hasn’t stopped writing since. She earned an MFA. in creative writing from the University of Houston and a BA in English and African American literature from Queens College, CUNY. She is currently working on a collection of stories and teaching. When she is not writing, she loves to make arts and crafts, collect mini fashion dolls from the 1970s, and spend quality time with her pets, Bones and Mina. Olga has been a WITS writer since 2006.
Sharon Ferranti holds an MFA in directing for film and theater from the California Institute of the Arts. She is a published playwright and filmmaker. Her short film, A Thousand Miles, was selected as one of the top ten short films for American Cinemateque in 2000. Sharon’s feature film, Make A Wish, won the Best in Festival award at the Paris Women’s Film Festival and is distributed by Wolfe Video. She currently owns her own production company, The Sharon Show, and received AVA and Telly awards for documentary editing in the category of religion/spirituality. She has been teaching with WITS for ten years and looks forward to many more.
Debbie Fontaine was first bitten by the teaching bug at the age of 17 as a Kindergarten teacher's aide. While attending Boston College, her passion increased when she helped implement a student teaching program for Navajo children in New Mexico. Her experiences range from owning a preschool in Malibu, California, teaching art at West University Elementary, to teaching economically disadvantaged fifth graders in Houston. As a co-writer of an integrated curriculum program for the Houston Museum of Science, she realized and expanded her creative writing talent. Debbie is currently co-writing songs with fellow WITS teacher Kiki Przewlocki for her band, Third Ear Caravan. This is her first year to work with Writers in the Schools.
Eva Foster earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Maryland, and is now a PhD student in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston. She has taught composition, creative writing, and literature at UMD and UH. Her poetry is published in The Helen Burns Poetry Anthology: New Voices from the Academy of American Poets’ University & College Prizes, 1999–2008. Eva has been a WITS writer since 2009. She lives in Houston with her husband and a small menagerie of cats and dogs.
Jill Frischhertz is a poet who claims New Orleans as home. She recently earned an MFA from San Diego State University, where she also taught creative writing and composition and co-edited two literary journals: Poetry International and Pacific Review. She holds a BA in English from Indiana University. She was the featured graduate student in the Honey Land Review, a 2010 Fulbright alternate, and a 2011 University of New Orleans (The Pinch) finalist. Jill is currently working on her first collection of poetry as well as a series of children’s stories. This is her second year with Writers in the Schools.
Deborah Frontiera grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and came to Houston in 1985. She taught kindergarten, pre-K, and K-5 science in HISD for over twenty years and was part of the Project A.C.C.E.S.S. curriculum writing project. Deborah has been with WITS since 2008. Experienced at presenting workshops for teachers and writers, she is published in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s works with eight books currently in print. For more information, visit her website.
Meghan Gorry is a writer of fiction and native Houstonian. She received her Bachelor's degree from Rice University, where she studied English and Latin American literature and worked as a Writing Consultant for fellow undergraduates. She has lived in Argentina and spent the past two years studying in Paris at the Sorbonne. Meghan is happy to be back in Houston and excited about her first year working with WITS.
Maryann Gremillion is beginning her fifth year with Writers in the Schools, and has taught writing workshops at Inprint, the Spectrum Writers Guild, and True You Creativity Studio. Her first micro essay was published in The Sun magazine in October 2010, and in April 2011 she won the Educational and Cultural Opportunity Fund literary grant from Women in the Visual and Literary Arts.Telling Our Stories Press will publish her ultra short memoir this fall. She also collaborates with other artists on both collage and writing projects, and her work has appeared at Winter Street Studios, Archway Gallery, and the Lawndale Art Center. Maryann taught elementary school for fifteen years and writes a blog on education reform. She studied the teaching of writing at Columbia University's Reading and Writing Project.
MaryScott Hagle is a native Houstonian who has taught high school English, theatre, swimming, public speaking, and woodworking. She has been with WITS since 2009 and currently teaches Nia, yoga, studio art, and creative writing. She was education director at the Alley Theatre for seven years and helped MTV Networks launch their newest web presence: ParentsConnect.com. MaryScott has degrees from Wellesley College and UT Austin. She and her architect husband Daniel Kornberg live with their two daughters in the Historic Houston Heights, where they host regular live music performances in their restored 1904 bungalow.
Autumn Hayes is a freelance writer, creative writing teacher, and Teach for America alumna. She holds a B.S. degree in business administration with a minor in creative writing, graduating cum laude from the University of Southern California. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Defenestration, Southern Women's Review, 7x20, Cuento, Jersey Devil Press, trapeze magazine, and the micro-fiction anthology 140 and Counting. A native Houstonian, she has taught reading, writing, public speaking, math, drama, and vocational welding in Los Angeles, Houston, and the Mississippi Delta. Autumn has been with WITS for two years.
Sarah Hill is a 2000 graduate of the University of St. Thomas, where she studied English literature and creative writing. She published her first book Distracted and Other Poems the same year with a small publishing house out of Madison, Wisconsin. She has taught middle school English; written art, music and food reviews for various Houston publications including, the Houston Press, ENVY, and 002 Houston Magazine; and she currently teaches in Houston Community College's Guided Studies Program. Her recent poems have appeared in Dappled Things and Relief Journal. Although originally from Waukesha, Wisconsin, Sarah currently resides in Houston with her husband, a debate instructor for HISD, and their three children, Magdalena, Jude, and Frances. Sarah has been with Writers in the Schools for nine years.
Artist and elementary teacher Carmen Erna Jacobsen got her first teaching experience in Mexico City. She worked for a private school teaching English as a second language, paying her way through medical school. She loves to write non-fiction, a skill she worked on while living in Alaska. Some of her articles have been featured on the RICE University Educational Program Blog known as REEP. She is currently working on her first chapbook of poetry called "Saudade". She loves to experiment new ideas and created a small Ballet Folklorico group named “Aztlan”, that combined the rhythm of poetry with the beat of the Mexican “zapateado.” Carmen now lives in Houston and is going into her sixth year with WITS. She believes every student carries a story waiting its turn to be discovered.
Patrick Clement James is a poet, essayist, and musician. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, he is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate at the University of Houston. Having taught in Montessori and public schools, he is excited to engage educationally with the community of Houston. In this capacity, Patrick hopes to help students discover the power of their experiences, voices, and imaginations. This is his first year to work with WITS.
Sarah Jerasa recently moved to Houston this year from Bloomington, Indiana where she had been teaching at The Project School, a project based and arts infused charter school. She received her BA and MAT degree from the University of Virginia and has taught upper elementary students for over 6 years. As a fellow for the Central Virginia Writing Project, she conducted classroom research around writing and revision and in 2010 presented her findings at the NCTE Conference onTeachers as Writers. She enjoys spending time with her husband and writing about her family adventures. In addition when no one is looking, she has been known to sing karaoke to some of the greatest 80’s hits. This is Sarah’s first year with Writers in the Schools.
Born in the Philippines, Janine Joseph is a Ph.D. student in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston, where she is a poetry editor for Gulf Coast. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Best New Poets 2011, Asian American Literary Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Third Coast, and elsewhere. A recipient of a Paul & Daisy Soros Foundation Fellowship, she is also a Kundiman and Pirogue Collective fellow. She holds degrees from UC Riverside and the Creative Writing Program at New York University, where she taught with the Starworks Foundation and Community Word Project. This is her fourth year with WITS.
Elizabeth A. M. Keel is a local Houston gal, as well as a novelist and playwright. She particpated in the Iowa Young Writers Studio as a teenager, and then obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of Houston, where she studied under Edward Albee, Lanford Wilson, and Mark Bly. Her plays have been produced by the UH, The Nova Arts Project, The Scriptwriters/Houston, Big Head Productions, Bootown, and MIldred's Umbrella. Her first novel,Running Into Trouble, was published in 2010. Elizabeth currently works as a teaching artist for the Alley Theatre, helping local teens write and produce short plays. This is Elizabeth’s first year with WITS.
Rob Kimbro is a graduate of Rice University. A theatre director and educator with a keen interest in new work, Rob has worked with young writers in the Alley Theatre’s Houston Young Playwrights Exchange (HYPE) and McCarter Theatre’s YouthInk! Program. He was also one of the founders of the Madison Young Playwrights Festival in Madison, Wisconsin. Rob’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants premiered at Stages Repertory Theatre in 2011. He was been a WITS writer for two years.
Emily Koehn was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and received a BA from Oberlin College, an MFA from Purdue University, and an MSW from the University of Houston. She has been a teacher with WITS for four years and previously taught creative writing and literature at Bates College. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Denver Quarterly, Seneca Review, and Pleiades, and she has been nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize. As a licensed social worker in Texas, she has also worked with youth and adults in a variety of settings. She loves walking around the Montrose area with her husband, baby, and hound dog. Emily has been a WITS writer since 2008.
Dana Kroos received an MFA in fiction writing from New Mexico State University in 2008. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Glimmer Train, The Florida Review, The Adirondack Review, The Superstition Review, Minnesota Monthly and others. She also holds an MFA in ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MA in fine art from Purdue University and frequently uses visual arts in collaboration with her own writing and in teaching writing. She has taught creative writing and visual arts to pre-school to adult students in various parts of the U.S. and abroad including working for three years as a full-time high school instructor at a charter arts high school in Las Cruces, NM. Currently she is working towards a Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of Houston. This is her first year with WITS.
Shane Lake was born and raised in Mattapoisett, MA. He left the Bay State for Pennsylvania, where he was a student in the creative writing program at Susquehanna University. In 2012 he received an MFA in poetry from Arizona State, and he is currently a doctoral student in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston. This is Shane’s first year with Writers in the Schools.
Dickson Lam earned an MFA degree in fiction from Rutgers-Newark University and is also a graduate of UC Berkeley and Columbia University. He has taught in small schools in New York, Oakland, and San Francisco and was a founding teacher at June Jordan School for Equity. He is currently a nonfiction MFA candidate at the University of Houston, where he is working on a memoir about growing up with an absent father and struggling with his identity as an Asian American in a public housing project in San Francisco. This is his second year with Writers in the Schools.
Jameelah Lang is a Creative Writing Ph.D. candidate at the University of Houston, where she is a Nonfiction Editor for Gulf Coast: a Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. She received a 2012 Work-Study Scholarship from Bread Loaf Writers Conference and was the 2009-2010 Writer-in-Residence at HUB-BUB Artist Residency. Her fiction appears in The Kenyon Review. She has taught with Writers in the Schools since 2010.
Born in South Carolina, Elizabeth Lyons is a PhD student in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston, where she is a nonfiction editor for Gulf Coast. A recipient of fellowships from Inprint, University of Houston and the Vermont Studio Center, she holds a BA in English from the College of Charleston and an MFA in creative writing from Purdue University. She has worked with various non-profits, including South Carolina Young Playwrights, The Center for Talented Youth, and Communities in Schools. This is her third year with Writers in the Schools.
Weezie Mackey works full time as communications manager at the business school at Rice University and has been a writer and editor with Webster’s Dictionary, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Tootsietoy, Rotary International, and the Williams College Museum of Art. She holds a BA in English from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and an MFA in creative writing from American University in Washington, D.C. Weezie is the author of the novel Throwing Like a Girl, which was nominated as Best Young Adult Book, 2007, by the Texas Institute of Letters. She has taught with WITS for five years and lives in Houston with her husband, two sons and two dogs.
Melanie Malinowski earned a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston where she was a recipient of a C. Glenn Cambor Fiction Award, an M.A. in English from the University of New Mexico, where she won a D. H. Lawrence Fellowship, and a B.A. in English from the Pennsylvania State University. Melanie has taught at WITS since 2000 in various elementary, middle and high schools as well as at M.D. Anderson and Texas Children’s Hospital in the Renal Dialysis Unit, where she is currently in residence. She also teaches spinning, receiving the title Houston Spinning Instructor of the Year in 2010, and she is the author of an unpublished novel entitled Water Blindness, a haunting elegy to the characters of her youth and the dusky underbelly of her hometown. Her essay, "Stone Cold Fox," about Steven Tyler, appeared this summer in Hippocampus Magazine. A native Delawarean, Melanie now lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, Andy, and her seven-year-old daughter, Echo Mariposa, pining for Steven Tyler and counting the days until the next Aerosmith concert.
Kristina McDonald received her M.F.A from Eastern Washington University and is the English Department Graduate Coordinator at Rice University. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Narrative, New Guard, and Sugar House Review. She has previously worked as the assistant coordinator for Get Lit! Programs, Poetry Out Loud coordinator for the Eastern Washington region, poetry editor for Willow Springs, and office manager for WITS. She is excited about returning to WITS for her second year as a writer.
Brian Mensik is an Austin-born, Houston-raised fiction writer who is returning for his second year with WITS. He graduated with a B.A. in Creative Writing and the University of Houston in 2010 and hopes to further his academic career in the near future. Over the years, Brian has taught and tutored students ranging from Pre-K to college level, and everywhere in between, and has recently discovered he inherited the teaching gene from his mother. When he is not teaching nor perpetually writing and re-writing his novel and short stories, Brian enjoys gardening, filmmaking, and laughing at his own jokes.
Florence Miyamoto is a wife, mother, retired teacher, and writer. A graduate of Fresno State College with a BA in Social Science, she later received Texas Lifetime Certification in Elementary Education (EC-8), Early Childhood Education, and English as 2nd Language (ESL).Reading Recovery trained through the University of Houston at Clear Lake, most of her teaching experience has been with the young struggling reader and writer, working as an Intervention Specialist in Humble and Spring Branch ISD. She is the author of Easy-to-Make Books That Target Specific Reading Needs (PK-K-1) published by Scholastic, a collection of books made for the child with a limited repertoire, books created to support the early behaviors of reading. This is her first year with WITS.
In August of 2009, Meggie Monahan packed up her green Jeep named Blanche and drove from Philadelphia to Houston with lousy air conditioning. Before coming to Texas, Meggie studied literature in Washington, D.C. and spent some time with the Philadelphia Deaf community, teaching adult daily living skills to folks with special needs. Meggie is an MFA student at the University of Houston, where she writes poetry, teaches freshmen, and serves as Nonfiction Editor for Gulf Coast. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Sonora Review, Cimarron Review, The Los Angeles Review, Greensboro Review, NANO Fiction, Third Coast, and elsewhere. This is Meggie’s second year with WITS.
Kelly Moore earned her Ph.D. from the University of Houston where she served as Assistant Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast. She has received a Collaboration among the Arts Fellowship from the Mitchell Center at UH and an Inprint/Barthelme Award in nonfiction. Her work has appeared in New Letters, Mid-American Review, American Letters and Commentary, and other publications. Kelly has been with WITS for seven years.
Deborah ''D.E.E.P'' Mouton is an internationally-known poet/vocalist/songwriter. She published her first poetry anthology, Heartstrings and Lamentations, at the age of 19. In addition to having a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan and a M.Ed from the University of St. Thomas, she is a certified teacher and the head coach of the Houston VIP National Poetry Slam Team. She has traveled all over the continent writing, performing, and leading workshops. In 2008, she was ranked as the #2 best female performance poet in the world. Deborah has been a WITS writer for two years.
Rosa Nam earned her B.A. in English and Asian American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She taught ninth-grade English in Alief ISD for four years. She will be returning to earn her MFA in Fiction next fall. This is her first year with WITS.
Michelle Oakes is a poet pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Houston. She is a Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast: a Journal of Literature and Fine Arts and an instructor for the 2012 Boldface Conference. Michelle earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Missouri, where she was also Associate Editor of Pleiades: a Journal of New Writing. Her work has appeared in The Laurel Review, and RHINO. This is Michelle’s first year with WITS.
Bradley Parrigin writes fiction as an MFA candidate in the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. Previously, he drifted about the South, toiling alternately as a bankruptcy lawyer and as middle-management for a private education company. In 2004, he received a BA in History from the University of Michigan. After a year of employment as a piano mover, he enrolled at Wake Forest University, graduating magna cum laude in 2009 with a JD and MBA. Brad's fiction is concerned with neither law nor business. This is his first year with Writers in the School.
Nancy K. Pearson’s first book of poems, Two Minutes of Light, published by Perugia Press, won the 2009 L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award for best poetry. Pearson has been awarded numerous awards and fellowships, including two seven-month poetry fellowships at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Originally from Chattanooga, TN, she recently moved to Houston with her partner. This is her second year as a WITS writer.
Karen Perez has a M.Ed. from the University of Houston and a B.A. in voice from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Ca. In high school she began writing poetry after reading books of San Francisco Beat poets that her mom had left around the house. But she did not think herself a writer until she was trained to teach writing by the New Jersey Writing Project in Texas (NJWPT) while at Alief ISD. A real confidence developed, and a joy for writing emerged. Since then, she tries to instill that same eagerness in her high school, middle, and home-schooled students. She loves writing poetry and short stories. This is her fourth year with WITS.
Dinorah Pérez-Rementería received a BA in Theater from the Higher Institute of Arts in Havana, Cuba, and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Miami. She writes about art and is very interested in exploring how concepts related to the fields of Ethics and Aesthetics can have a positive impact on the education of young kids. Her articles have appeared in different art magazines such as Art Nexus, Arte al Día International, ArtPulse, among others. This will be her third year as a Creative Writing teacher with WITS.
Caitlin Plunkett was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and spent the first 12 years of life roaming Europe, South America, and a tiny island in the Pacific. After moving to the United States, she attended Virginia Tech for her undergraduate degrees in international relations and Spanish—all the while exploring the beautiful Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains. Caitlin’s environmental poetry has appeared on Poets for Living Waters, an online response to the recent Gulf Coast oil spill. She is currently in her final year as an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Houston. This is her second year with Writers in the Schools.
Terry Portillo has given her B.A. in English quite a workout since she first graduated from the University of Houston. Her poetry and short stories have earned her five Pushcart Prize nominations; she has been a juryed poet at the Houston Poetry Festival; and her work has been spotlighted on KPFT's Houston Living Arts broadcast. Terry has taught English to junior high students and creative writing classes to adults. She presently teaches part-time at Lone Star College and joined WITS because she would especially like to work with children (English or Spanish speaking). Terry's adventures have included backpacking alone around Europe and Mexico. This is her first year with WITS.
From alternative settings and schools in Massachusetts and New Mexico to the stages and classrooms of Houston, Kiki Przewlocki continues to explore the vast landscape of the creative/performing arts. She is the recipient of grants from UH, CACCH, The Fund for Teachers, and the Waverly School in southern France. Kiki performs in her music in her band, Third Ear Caravan www.thirdearcaravan.com. She has been with WITS for ten years.
Monica Rhor is a freelance journalist and a teacher who was born in Ecuador and raised in New Jersey. Monica has worked as a staff writer at the Associated Press (AP), Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Orange County Register. Her work has won numerous awards, including AP’s 2008 Texas Writer of the Year honor. She currently freelances for the Associated Press, the Houston Chronicle, Latina Magazine,Mamiverse.com, Fox News Latino, and other publications. Monica has taught high school English and journalism and is currently an adjunct instructor at Lone Star College-Kingwood. She received her BA in journalism from New York University. This is her second year with WITS.
Harriet Riley is a free-lance writer focusing on creative nonfiction. She has been published in Teachers & Writers Magazine several times and recently had a piece selected for publication with Telling Our Stories Press. She taught undergraduate writing classes at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, before moving to Houston in 2007. She has also worked as a non-profit director, hospital marketing director, and newspaper reporter. She has her MA in print journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and her BA in English and journalism from the University of Mississippi. She is in her fifth year with Writers in the Schools.
SaMantha Shields has been a writer since the sixth grade winning her first poetry competition. With years of experience in newspaper reporting, editorial, speech, curriculum, play, and essay writing etc, she spends her days disguised as a dynamic middle school writing teacher and nights as a prolific author of blogs, articles, short stories, poetry and an upcoming masterpiece novel. This is her second year with WITS.
Analicia Sotelo is from San Antonio, Texas and received a BA with honors in English literature from Trinity University. She is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Houston. She works as a Teaching Assistant at the University of Houston, a writing tutor at Houston Community College, and reads for Gulf Coast. In 2008, she attended the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets and, in 2010, she was nominated for the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation award for Texas writers. Her work has been published in Diagram, Gigantic Sequins, and Ink Node, and is forthcoming in Transnational Mexican Artistic and Cultural Production. This is her third year working with WITS.
Rebecca Spears, a poet and instructor, is the author of The Bright Obvious: Poems(Finishing Line Press, 2009). Her writing appears in If These Walls Could Speak: The Blanton Museum Poetry Project (Univ. of Texas, Austin), The Weight of Addition, TriQuarterly, Calyx, Minnesota Review, Natural Bridge, Nimrod, Borderlands, Texas Review, and other journals and anthologies. She has received scholarships from the Taos Writers Workshop, the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow, and Vermont Studio Center and was a finalist for the Iowa Review Poetry Award. This is her second year with Writers in the Schools.
An essayist, who occasionally uncovers a poem while crafting prose, M. Yvonne Taylor spent a few years after college working as a technical writer before becoming assistant director of publications and minority community affairs at Rice University. She later worked as assistant director of student activities at Reed College, a community college and high school AP English teacher, and in marketing before launching her own communications and education business, YvonneWrites. Yvonne’s work on a collection of essays about single motherhood helped her attain a Gardarev artist’s residency in Boston in 2011. She graduated with a degree in English from the University of Houston and earned a master’s in liberal arts from Southern Methodist University. This is her first year to work with Writers in the Schools.
Candy Torrez is an explorer and storyteller who grew up hearing the stories of her parents who were born in Puerto Rico and grew up in Harlem during the Great Depression. She was born in NYC and grew up in South River, New Jersey. While in school, Candy joined Civil Air Patrol for aerospace education and earned her pilot’s license. She attended Douglass College at Rutgers University, and herfirst job was at Princeton University in the Astrophysics Department on a major satellite project. She moved to Houston in 1984 to work at the NASA-Johnson Space Center to develop software for the Space Shuttle flight controllers. She has 2 Masters degrees from the University of Houston - Clear Lake -- Studies of the Future (Sociology) and Humanities (Art & Philosophy). One of her goals is to write her family’s stories so that their legacy lives on, because storytelling is an important part of humanity. This is her first year with Writers in the Schools.
Gabriela Villegas was born in Mexico City, where she earned her degree in theater from El Centro Universitario de Teatro. She is the founder of Jaguar Sun, a non-profit organization that combines theater arts with education. Gabriela has written several plays for Young Audiences of Houston, and she is part of their roster of artists. She lives with her kids Marina, Claudia, and Patrick and spends two months of the year in Puerto Vallarta. Gabriela has been a WITS writer for ten years.
Nicole Walker is a second-year MFA candidate in poetry in the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program. She received her BA in English and psychology at the University of St. Thomas. This is her second year at Writers in the Schools. She was born at Texas’s southernmost tip, in the city of Brownsville. She thinks she and Emily Dickinson could have been best friends.
Mark Williams grew up outside Chicago, IL. He taught junior high and high school English up there for three years before moving south—first to Boone, NC; then Louisville, KY; and now Houston. Currently, Mark is finishing a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Louisville, where he has also studied creative writing. This is his first year with WITS.
Elizabeth Winston is a fiction writer originally from the Washington, D.C. area. She earned a BA in fiction and literature from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, and is currently pursuing an MFA in fiction at the University of Houston. In the intervening years, she worked as a newspaper reporter, freelance writer and editor, and grant writer, among other pursuits. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, photography, surfing, playing the drums, running, and taking care of her two bad cats and sixteen-year-old dog, Peanut. This is her second year as a WITS writer.