August 5, 2019

Lessons in Creativity From Two Alumnae at the Alice Hoffman Young Writers Retreat

by Nii Akrofi Smart-Abbey, MFA '20 (anticipated)

Alice Hoffman ’73, ’02 (Hon.), (center) leads a workshop attended by high school students and middle school teacher Maura Moore, MA ’03.

Alora Hague, a sophomore at New Hyde Park Memorial High School, loves to write poetry and fiction and wants to be a published writer. To perfect her craft, she joined more than a dozen other high school students who came to Adelphi this summer for the annual Alice Hoffman Young Writers Retreat.

“I’ve gained a lot of confidence,” Hague said about being in the program. “I feel in my element. The people around me are people who understand my issues with writing and they know the solutions to fix them.”

The weeklong retreat, hosted by the College of Education and Health Sciences in collaboration with best-selling author Alice Hoffman ’73, ’02 (Hon.), features creative writing workshops facilitated by Adelphi faculty members, all of whom are accomplished writers and artists, and assisted by graduate students.

Mia Carranza, a senior at Herricks High School in New Hyde Park, New York, said she joined the program because it presented “an amazing opportunity,” she said, for her to be in an environment with other students her age, “who love to write just as much as I do.”

Hoffman has been working with different groups of young writers for over a decade at the retreat. She said she was impressed by the level of participation there.

“You have to be really brave to be a writer,” she stated. “I think everyone in this room was really brave. They all wanted to write and everyone was receptive, so it was fun.”

Graduate Students Get Creative

The high schoolers weren’t the only ones learning. Adelphi graduate students had a separate session with Maura Moore, MA ’03, on the importance of using creativity and arts in the classroom.

Moore posted on her Instagram account, “I’ve been involved with this writing workshop since its very first year 15-plus years ago, when I took it as a grad student. Now I come back to guest teach.”

Moore earned her master’s degree in adolescent education and is currently a middle school English teacher in Maryland. She spoke about how a gift turned into the creation of a crocheting club. When one of Moore’s students told her she was moving away, Moore gave her a crocheted owl.

“The [other] students saw the owl I had made her, and they asked for owls too,” Moore said. “I said, ‘There’s no way I can make everyone an owl, so how about I teach you?'” She started meeting with students after school and, instead of making owls, they decided to make hats for babies in the neonatal intensive care units of hospitals.

Moore said a teacher does not need to be creative with their hands to share their passions with their students. She gave an example of a math teacher interested in football who can use that as a basis to teach students about statistics. “Everyone has an interest in something,” she said.

She said what is important is that the teacher is not only sharing their passion with their students but is also willing to be vulnerable.

Moore said, “I go out of my way to be vulnerable and connect with kids, especially the kids who struggle with [controlling their] behavior because they’re hurting.” This way, she said, the students see their teacher as human and are better able to connect with them and be more open to learning ways to manage their behavioral problems in class.

She is currently using her creativity in and out of the classroom by crafting endearing crocheted creatures she calls Meeps, which she features on Facebook and Instagram.


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