Teaching Critical Skills
Volunteer Jody Hauber first began her work with HOLA by developing a Creative Writing Workshop to engage students after being introduced to the organization through friends. That workshop evolved into a Creative Writing Program for the high school students, which Jody has been running for the last two years.
In it’s earliest stages, the program focused on short stories. After the students read the stories, they engaged in writing exercises that related both to the short stories that they had read, but also exercises that encouraged the students to write about larger life lessons. As the program has developed, the students are spending more time on writing creative non-fiction, evaluating experiences in their own lives, all with an eye towards helping them to prepare to write their personal essays for their college applications. Each student works on an essay throughout the session and as the students are introduced to a new element of writing each week, they then weave the week’s lesson into their essay, continuing to refine it throughout the session. In the current class, the students are writing about food. Although the topic is very broad, the students have each put their own touch on the topic, focusing on a variety of themes, including family bonding and cultural heritage.
Jody encourages students to share their work in class, not only allowing students to get over their self-consciousness, but also helping students to relate and bond with each other. Student Samantha Sanchez says “Creative Writing is her favorite class so far.” Through her writing, she has been able to explore her thoughts and emotions and find things about herself she didn’t know.
“I’m so proud of these kids! I’m proud of the dedication and faith my kids have in writing and in each other,” says Jody. “I’m moved and impressed by their life journeys and achievements and commitment to fulfilling the destiny their parents dreamed of.”
Jody herself is a writer, specializing in literary fiction and essays. She has a book called Between the Dog and Wolf awaiting publication and has started working on a fictional memoir. Jody is deeply involved in the Los Angeles creative writing community and brings that and her experience as an author to the HOLA kids.
In addition to helping HOLA students with their writing, Jody has introduced Alejandro, one of her former students, to her neighbor who is a lawyer. Alejandro has a dream of becoming a lawyer and is grateful to Jody for the introduction. He is already hard at work, helping on an actual case.