Creative Writing at Charles E. Jordan High School

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Creative Writing at Charles E. Jordan High School

Ben Throckmorton, Staff Writer

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Students who have taken a creative writing class at Jordan can agree that Mr. Albright’s classes are one of the best ways to fill your schedule during your time in high school. When asked why, students usually reply by saying something along the lines of “because Mr. Albright is the best,” or “it really helps you to become a better writer.” Even though many schools across the country offer creative writing, not many schools have a program as high-quality and unique as Jordan’s. Mr. Albright maintains good relationships with his students while keeping them on track with their work.

Currently, there are three levels of this class: CWI, CWII, and CWIII. As students go through each class, their writing skills become more developed. Starting off in Creative Writing I, students learn the fundamentals of how to write a wide variety of pieces, from short stories, poetry, creative non-fiction, screenplay writing, and more. In Creative Writing II, students are faced with the challenge of writing their own novels. With the guidance of Mr. Albright, students work on creating and writing their own individual novel, with the goal of publishing it at the end of the year. The newest of the classes, Creative Writing III, has students focus on writing outside of their comfort zones, focusing on characters and settings different from their own. Each class is unique, and focuses on developing the different strengths of being a writer. 

 

In 2006, Mr. Albright was named the DPS teacher of the year, and in 2008 received the Milken National Educator Award by Teacher Magazine

 

Here is a Q&A with Mr. Albright to hear more about his creative writing classes.

 

Interview Questions: October 4th, 2019

 

Ben: “Why should students take your class [creative writing]?”

 

Mr. Albright: “There are few chances in most public school settings for you to be able to write about things that matter to you personally, and it gives you an opportunity to do that, and I think it’s a class that helps you out for writing for college–but also writing on tests like the SAT and ACT. “

 

Ben: “Are there stories or writing pieces that you will never forget?”

 

Mr. Albright: “One, in particular, is a short story by Rheaya Wyllis–she went on to Yale after Jordan–and she decided to write a story from the perspective of a girl who is blind who is asked to testify in her father’s murder of her mother. It was a very intense story. It grabbed my attention because it was like, a student intentionally looking outside of themselves and writing about a character who isn’t like them. We probably read this in Creative Writing 1 as a model. … That story is one that has really stood out. We in general as humans remember stories better than we remember dates and names of people, so I will remember the things that you’ve written in my class and the plot long after I’ve forgotten your name.”

 

Ben: “Are there parts of being the creative writing teacher where you wish you had more support?”

 

Mr. Albright: “I love the fact that at Jordan the administration has let me teach this class; they’ve done a great job of staying out of my way and letting me make it the way I want to make it. Financially, we don’t have any support – I don’t blame any of the administration for that, but I would love to be able to get the money so that every kid can have a copy of our class anthology every year. I’m actually applying for a grant from the PTA this year to do that for the first time. It’s something like $1000. That’s no small amount of money, so that’s the one thing that I would love to be able to get outside community support for.”

 

Ben: “What would you say to a high school senior who is struggling to write their college essay(s)?”

 

Mr. Albright: “Admissions people read thousands of these essays. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions person reading thousands of the same kind of essay. What can you do to make yours stand out?  I think that’s where creative writing comes in–you can provide a way of capturing this person’s attention so that they see you as having another level of depth that maybe other students don’t.”

 

Ben: “Do you think creative writing helps to better prepare students for the real world? Why?”

 

Mr. Albright: “I think [yes] for a lot of reasons: one, it’s giving kids an opportunity to be in a class with people who are different from them. I love the mixtures of the diversity of the class and that represents what they’re going to have to deal with in the real world. And, I think that being able to think outside of the box and think creatively is a huge skill in jobs these days, so to be able to do that is really important and I think this class teaches that.”

 

Ben: “Can anybody write a good story? Do you think that there is such a thing as a bad writer?”

 

Mr. Albright: “I think there is such a thing as poor mechanics. I think everybody has a story within them, whether it’s their own life story or something else. To me, anybody who is willing to tell the story of their life in a vulnerable way–that is powerful in and of itself, and how you tell it is something that you can work on. To say that someone doesn’t have a story is to say that somebody doesn’t have dreams and emotions.”

 

To learn more about Mr. Albright, go to stuartalbright.com/about/