Smarties, meet Trish Rohr. If you’ve been a longtime CSP reader, you may have heard her name before. She’s a former teacher, founder of Rohr Rockstars, a writer, a writing tutor, and now the founder of the Teen Writing Circle, an online writing workshop geared toward teens. She’s basically a slice of AMAZING who is doing incredible work in our community.
I asked Trish to be a Smarty Mom so we could highlight her newest baby, Teen Writing Circle, because, well, it’s brilliant. My twelve-year-old daughter is taking one of her workshops this summer, and I have this feeling it’s going to be a #lifechanging two weeks for her. Writing is a gift; but, with phones and social media (think status updates and 140-character Twitter messages) and other distractions, so many young people don’t get the practice they need to discover this gift. That’s where Trish’s workshop comes in.
If, after reading her Smarty Mom interview, you have this instant urge to want to hang out with her, you’re not alone. Her zest is contagious – you’ll see after reading this interview. And, if you want to get to know Trish even better, check out her blog, She’s Whiskey in a Teacup (one of my fave articles is one she did on Cam).
Smarties, enjoy getting to know this week’s Smarty Mom, Trish Rohr!
Smarty Mom: Trish Rohr
Smarty Mom Stats:
Married to: Eric, 21 years
Children: Anna Kathryn (16) and Chase (14)
Years in Charlotte: 16
Hometown: York, PA
Alma Mater: Gettysburg College and UNCC
Occupation: Writer, Writing Tutor, Founder of Rohr Rockstars & former MS teacher
Tell us about your new endeavor, Teen Writing Circle.
Teen Writing Circle gives students the opportunity to become not just better writers, but better thinkers. Using creative nonfiction as our starting point, small group, on-line workshops provide the perfect balance of structure and flexibility so that students can write what is most important to them.
The ability to write well is not simply a gift – it is a skill. Writing helps us convey ideas, solve problems, and understand our changing world. Students who write often are better problem solvers and creative thinkers. They observe, absorb and process the world around them, layering in their own ideas and emotions, in an effort to make sense of the world around them.
How did this idea come about?
I had a eye-opening moment this spring sitting in a college application workshop for parents of rising juniors. I heard, over and over again, how important the college essays are and how authentic they need to be. The presenters spoke of unique voice, insight into life events, and even tossing out essays that sounded too edited and engineered. (terror!) Could my kids do this? Have they ever written anything like this? Wait, isn’t this the type of writing I have fallen in love with the past three years? And don’t I miss working with kids since leaving teaching?
I started to think about how I wanted to combine my two passions – and how to do it so I could engage and excite kids about writing. I knew I had to make it flexible to accommodate busy schedules, and I also wanted to be sure to give kids the freedom to write what matters to them, in the way they choose to express themselves. The result is a series of on-line writing workshops consciously designed to engage even a reluctant writer. My hope is that it will evolve into a space for teens to write all year long.
What are your goals for the program?
I will give you my pie in the sky goal (insert teenage eye roll)- I would love to instill a love for writing and a desire write for personal fulfillment in every MS and US student. Writing can be a magical practice of self discovery, healing and creativity. I wish I could give it to all of them…
Now the realistic goal – I want kids to have a chance to practice the type of writing that allows them to find their voice, develop a personal style and ultimately write an amazing college essay.
When does your first session start and how can Smarty teens register?
The first workshop begins in mid-June, but I have workshops throughout the summer. The website www.teenwritingcircle.com has all of the information about the workshops and registration.
That is a million dollar question! I think the more you can stress to them that any writing is good writing, the more you stand a chance to get them to actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Allow their writing to be private (no sneaking a peek) and engage them in conversations that are thought provoking and opinion generating. The world seems to be full of that right now!
Personally, I believe in the power of example. If you want them to write, then model what a daily writing practice looks like for you. Talk to them about what you write, read your writing to them….or sign them up for TWC workshops and I will do it for you 🙂
What are some ways parents of younger children (elementary school age and younger) can foster the love of writing in their children?
Talk to them about the small moments they have everyday that are chocked full of meaning, like the giddy feeling they get when they hear the music of the ice cream truck from two streets over. Break it down for them so they don’t get overwhelmed. Let them draw their ideas before ever writing the words. Try hard not to focus on mechanics like spelling and punctuation….get the ideas flowing and creativity bubbling. The rest can happen during the school year. Find the joy!
You’re also the founder of Rohr Rockstars. How has creating this organization changed your perspective on children and teens?
RR is a constant source of inspiration and joy for me. The children and the families I meet are so strong and so positive – they are truly Rockstars. Everyday I am reminded to be present in the moment and not to burden my own kids too much with worries about the future. We are so great right here, right now. And that is enough.
What’s on the horizon for Rohr Rockstars?
We are looking at ways to expand our reach by building out our website. The ultimate goal is to make a landing spot for any family with a child facing an extended illness to help them navigate and manage their child’s academics.
Eric is doing great. He is the strongest and most faith-filled man, along with the funniest person, I have ever known. He keeps all of us moving forward
Any advice for Smarties who raising teenagers (or who are about to raise teens)?
Buckle up and enjoy the ride! I think it is an amazing process to watch kids figure out who they are and what they want from life. If you want them to behave a certain way, model that behavior. Talk, talk, talk…even if they don’t talk back. They are listening and watching.
Now for the Smarty lightening round…
Favorite place to shop for yourself? J.Crew. On-line. 24/7.
Favorite place for a date night? Las Vegas. Or Bakersfield on East Blvd and Park Terrace Theaters
Smoothie or fresh-pressed juice? Ummmmm….. Diet Coke. I know, I know.
Paper or electronic calendar? My paper calendar has every event on it, but I also have an electronic calendar that has about 63% of our lives just in case I lose my paper calendar. It’s not an ideal system.
Secret to keeping everything balanced? Give up perfection and laugh. Laugh a lot.
Best place to grab lunch with your girlfriends? Earl’s Grocery.
One word that best describes your life as it is today? Blessed.
Favorite part of your day? When my people are home and things are noisy and crazy and busy.
Guilty pleasure? Sitting in the sunshine, getting a little color and not wearing sunscreen. (gasp)
Finish this sentence: “I want my teenagers to…” be content, be independent and be proud of who they are. Oh, and laugh a lot.