By Diana Nelson
Kids at Kyrene Middle School, in the English-Language Arts class, received tips from professional, published writers during the recent Young Writers Conference.
It’s the kind of encouragement that teacher Debra Rosenblum offers to her students to inspire the young, fledging writers to imagine their futures by participating in the craft.
“Last year, when I asked if students would attend a Saturday, two-hour workshop on writing with me, 13 students agreed and we had ourselves a success,” said Rosenblum.
“I wanted to do more for KMS, so a two-hour workshop became a full-day event with some terrific perks for the students. It was easy to acquire writers to lead craft workshops because I happen to be friends with many writers in our community, who also happen to enjoy teaching kids and adults all about writing.
“I also was the Mesa Public Library’s Writer in Residence a couple of years ago and I knew that there was an interest in a free conference such as my Young Writers Conference.”
Rosenblum grew up in Philadelphia, PA and as a child says she was blessed with “an active imagination along with a zest for learning.”
Her childhood sounds idyllic—revolving around a combination of family gatherings, Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street, along with learning to play the piano.
“As I grew into a teenager, my fondest memories are of the many stage productions I worked on and the SPARC program at my high school, where we simulated space-shuttle launches,” said Rosenblum.
Her earliest career aspiration was to be a child psychologist; but she quickly realized that in order to affect positive change and to make the biggest impact on children, she would need to be in a classroom setting rather than sitting behind a desk.
“I was educated through our public-school system, so it’s a tribute to the institution that I became a teacher. I went to Hofstra University; and then, Rider University to round out my education.”
She began her teaching career in Manalapan, New Jersey as an elementary-school teacher for first through fourth grades for 13 years.
Then in 2007, she moved to Arizona, and started teaching fifth and sixth grade students in the Kyrene District, until three years ago when she was chosen to teach the PREP program at Kyrene Middle School.
“Now, I teach seventh and eighth-grade language and literature to our gifted and talented population,” said Rosenblum.
Her move to middle-school education also coincided with her growth as a professional writer, with a focus on the romantic genre.
“I always loved writing, but I had no idea that it would become a second career,” said Rosenblum, “It was only during Spring Break in 2009 when I realized I had stories inside me dying to get out.”
So, she began her own writing career and became a best-selling USA Today author. She admits she used to be a reading addict, but now has less time due to all of her writing projects. She likes romantic novels because it’s the only kind of storytelling the gives readers happily ever-after endings.
In the classroom, she says enjoys two things in particular- -engaging in literary analysis with students and nurturing the creative writer in them.
“We have such a huge untapped well of highly capable student writers,” said Rosenblum. “It’s exciting to watch it flourish with the right guidance.”
Her teaching role at KMS allows her to combine her two passions—to educate youth, in a nurturing way, and to write fiction.
She is glad that KMS supports all her creative writing programs. In addition to the classroom, she edits an anthology of students’ fiction and creative non-fiction, called the “Literal Scorpion,” which is available on the school’s website.
“I also absolutely love the staff and the administration at KMS. I wake up every morning happy to be going to work,” said Rosenblum.