Write from the Heart has an amazing staff of coaches who work with the students. All the coaches are degreed professionals passionate about working with homeschoolers. Coaches do a lot more at Write from the Heart than grade papers—they’re available daily to help students, discuss homework, facilitate literature discussions, and encourage each student individually through the writing process. Write from the Heart is an interactive class, and a big part of that is the wonderful coaches. In this series, we hope that you can get to know our staff even better.
Our next coach in the lineup is the wonderful Mrs. Jenny Cowan. Jenny graduated in 2007 from Cedarville University with a degree in English. In 2014, Jenny began her journey with Write from the Heart as an Intermediate Composition coach, working mostly with 7th and 8th graders. Jenny’s ambition led her to write the curriculum for the Thesis and Expository Essay course offered in our Summer Institute. She now teaches two sessions of this course every summer. Want to know how to write a knockout thesis? She’s your girl!
Currently, Jenny lives in New Jersey with her husband and three beautiful children.
Why were you interested in teaching writing?
I have loved writing ever since I was a young child, and I always knew that someday I wanted to pursue professional writing. Along the way, there were teachers who recognized and encouraged my love of writing, and it helped me believe in myself and gave me the confidence to pursue writing as I got older.
One teacher, in particular, stands out to me, even twenty years later. My family had moved during the middle of my seventh-grade year, and I started a brand new school. My favorite class was with Mrs. Geesey, who taught reading and writing. One of my first assignments was to write a short story. I was very shy and was having a hard time adjusting to my new school, but I loved writing. Mrs. Geesey noticed my love of writing right away and encouraged me to follow my imagination and use writing to get through this tough time. She helped me figure out the plot line, develop the characters, and refine my story until it was exactly what I wanted. Afterwards, she created a special award, complete with a gold nameplate with my name on it, as having the best short story in the class.
I will never forget the confidence that she gave me, and the extra time she spent with me. Even more, I wanted to teach writing so that I could pass that same encouragement to another student. I love nothing more than to help my students become the absolute best writers that they can be and to have confidence in their creativity, voice, and ability.
What is your favorite part about coaching?
My favorite part of coaching is helping a student to find his or her unique voice as a writer. I especially love working with those students who start off the year thinking, “I’m not a good writer.” Even students who doubt their writing abilities have a distinct, one-of-a-kind perspective on life that no one else has, and I enjoy helping them to discover that perspective and put it into their writing.
One student, in particular, told me he would much prefer being outside on his ranch driving his ATV, to sitting inside and writing for class. I encouraged him to write about what he loved best: his ranch, the outdoors, and his many adventures. Together, we worked on improving his grammar and his writing process so that he could put down his thoughts more logically, and find places to include his creativity in each assignment. He wrote some unforgettable pieces during that school year, and I could almost imagine myself living the ranch life because of how his writing jumped off the page.
After the class ended, I received an email from him, thanking me for all of my help and telling me how much more he now enjoyed writing. It is so rewarding to help a student unlock their own creative voice and learn how to channel that into their writing.
What piece of personal writing are you most proud of?
About three years after deciding to be a stay at home mom, I missed the challenge of working in the professional world. I saw a wanted ad in my local newspaper for a reporter to cover local municipal meetings. It was just a few hours a month, and I thought “why not?” I sent in my writing samples, and the editor asked me to also cover the monthly human interest feature. Through this, I got to meet a number of amazing local citizens doing some extraordinary things. This story is one that I wrote early in my newspaper tenure, but it is one that I am most proud of! I received many, many notes of thanks from the people involved with this story after writing it. It’s amazing how
the written word can touch the hearts and lives of so many people.
What do you like about teaching online?
When my oldest was born, I made the decision to leave my full-time job and stay at home with her. I never regretted that decision, and yet I found that I also missed working outside the home. Teaching online has given me a way to keep my skills sharp, invest in the lives of students, and yet not sacrifice too much time away from my own children. I like that the schedule of online teaching allows me to work around my responsibilities as a mom.
What do you do with your family that you enjoy the most?
I have three kids, a girl age 6, and two boys ages 4 and 9 months old. My husband and I love doing things outdoors with our kids, but it can be challenging to find activities that work for all of their different ages. This summer we have been doing a lot of bike rides since everyone can participate in that. We have a special bike seat for the baby and a bike trailer my four-year-old. The area where we live has miles and miles of paved bike trails that go through the woods and along the river. We have a lot of fun together!
In a few weeks, we will also be heading to the beach for a family vacation, which is one of our favorite places to go. Our youngest, the baby, has never been to the beach before, and I am curious as to what he will think of it! I suspect he will be putting quite a few fistfuls of sand in his mouth…