Saturday, August 14, 2021

School Days

Click to enlarge photos. 
Taken from my Facebook and Insta posts.

SCHOOL DAYS... While so many friends head back to the classroom this fall, I am not. After 45 years in schools and universities, I’m going to settle in to write, hike, travel, and uncle. 

I’ve enjoyed engaged and caring colleagues wherever I’ve been, including the University of Maine. Since 2003, Black Bear faculty, graduate students, administrators, and especially our dedicated support staff have helped me in infinite ways and become friends. Many of these colleagues challenged my thinking, forgave my impatience during meetings, and supported me during the good days as well as the dark moments we all face in life. I will miss these kind and generous people.  

What’s next? Writing, of course. I’ve got a wicked fun book underway. I might do a little teaching, but let’s not go there right now. And… certain friends and family members will attest to 40+ years of listening to my talk about RVs (Could I get any more retiree-ish?). The bank and I bought The Rig not too long ago. Bailey and I have traveled here and there in the van to hike small-town ski areas and visit out-of-the-way places in hopes of gearing up for “the grand adventure.” I’m a lot more adventurous at the computer and in the classroom, but we’ll keep exploring backroads and trails to see where they lead us. 

To my colleagues, school families, and students across the years... thank you for the lessons you taught and these interesting years.

Michael Armstrong, my graduate school teacher at Lincoln College (UK), said in class one day, “To teach writing, in a sense, is a way of teaching people to tell the story of their lives.” If nothing else, I hope I’ve done that these past 45 years. 

My office home. 

Nine hours later

My first day of classes at UMaine, I walked across campus for coffee and happened by the quite wonderful dean, Anne Pooler. She said, “Good morning, professor.” That’s the exact moment my bout of imposter syndrome moved to a new level. 

My backyard at UMaine

My home since 2003. 

Good people in here... 

Most every f2f class I handed out bags of chocolate, pens, pencils, and stickers. If you can’t wow ‘em with your brilliance… serve up chocolate.  

I love designing and making up t-shirt slogans. I should start a company. 

Good friends, professors Cindy Dean and Ken Martin. 

I sound good on paper…..  even though I look a bit mid-winter pale. 

I’ve been involved in writing centers since 1986. In 1990, a crew of my favorite students of ever and ever and I started our own at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford, Maine. Thirty-plus years later, a cadre of brilliant writing center directors and one aging professor-advisor, launched the Secondary School Writing Center Association ( Here’s to continuing this national movement. 

One of my favorite office spouses, Heather Eddy. 

We all learn by experience, but some of us have to go to summer school.” (de Vries) I loved teaching summer school... Here’s a talented group of nonfiction writers. 

Bailey’s first day on campus in 2010. The Shibles Aunts spoiled him. Any time he visited from then on, he’d run from office to office getting treats… a virtual smorgasbord for the pup!

My literacy pal, Jane Wellman-Little… Jane’s finishing up this year, too.
We’re waiting for you, Diane Jackson! 

More T-shirts

My dear friend, Kate Kennedy… writer and teacher extraordinaire 
also former director of the Southern Maine Writing 

In 2008-2009 I came up with an idea for an online writing master’s degree program. My friends Ken Martin and Dave Boardman joined forces with me to create a fabulous program for writers and teachers of writing ( My hiker friend, Amanda Cupps, serves as advisor to the program. 

One of the gifts of a teacher’s life is former students.
I have a lot... and their all favorites like Lincoln McIsaac. 

Yes, another t-shirt

Literacy Colleagues

Literacy Colleagues earlier on  

Even famous people. 

We professors like to talk... and I tried. 

...and tried some more.


One of the best professional development opportunities for teachers across America is the National Writing Project. Our site at UMaine, Maine Writing Project, is a true gift to state teachers (so’s the Southern Maine Writing Project).  

I’ve worked with superb doctoral students… Ken and Dave ran the Maine Writing Project with me and, as noted, helped create our graduate program, “Writing and the Teaching of Writing.”

Shameless self promotion. 

The Rig

Bailey's bed. 

See you on the trails. 

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