English instructor connects students though writing

When English instructor Susan Casey first moved to Seattle after teaching abroad for several years, poetry helped her connect with her new city. While commuting to her job at Seattle Central, she noticed poems published on the interior of buses as part of a King County Metro’sPoetry on Buses program and decided to submit one herself. She’s had severalpoems published on Metro buses over the past 15 years.

In the same way that writing helped her connect with her newfound community, Susan seeks to inspire her students to connect with each other through writing each day in her classroom. In teaching English, she asks her students to write stories about things that are important to them to share with their peers.

“What I remember most about my college experience was figuring out who I was,” said Susan. “I want to give my students the space and opportunity to consider who they are. I hope that I create a space where we can respect each other’s humanity.”

This invitation to share experiences creates a sense of security and community in her classroom. By the end of the quarter, she says almost every student is eager to share. Susan makes a point of congratulating the students on their success when they convey a story or a moment well. The trust created between her and her students is so strong that Susan often receives emails from former students eager to share the next chapters of their lives, which she says is her favorite part about teaching.

“I often teach English 092-093 and 095-096, which are the most basic English classes in the English department,” said Susan. “It’s powerful to see those students get through English 101, to graduation and beyond. It shows the power of the community college, that we can help students who need that little extra boost to graduate.”