WENDY LAWRENCE, founder
(The official-looking version, written in the third person which I promise is not how I talk about myself. Usually. Unless I’m saying “Mommy does not want to be hit with a fire truck right now.”)
Wendy Lawrence is a freelance writer, a life-long educator, and a member of SCBWI. She has worked for over ten years in public and private education as a teacher, curriculum coordinator, and Middle School Principal. Her teaching experience includes science, math, history, reading, and writing in grades 3 through 10. Before that, she designed curriculum and led workshops for village councils in Lesotho with the Peace Corps. A Seattle native, Wendy now lives with her husband (Seventh Grade Crush) and two sons (The Wizard of Why, 5 and Gyroscope, 2) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She spends her time momming, blogging, freelancing, and writing children’s books.
M.Ed., Boston College, Elementary Education
B.A., Swarthmore College, Biology and Economics, high honors
Awards and Memberships
Distinguished Service, Eastside Preparatory School
Distinguished Student Teacher, Boston College
Member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)
You can also email me: thefamilythatreadstogether (at) gmail (dot) com
The story behind the bio
When people look at my business card, they tend to raise an eyebrow. Usually only one. (It’s something I wish I could do…it would come in handy, I believe, as a mother.) They ask what it means to be an “educator”. I guess because it doesn’t say “lawyer”, “doctor”, or “someone who earns a salary”, they become concerned.
So I’d like to take some time to set the record straight. I used to be a teacher. I used to be a principal. Technically, I am not either now although with a three-and-a-half year old, my experience as a principal thinking of clever punishments for children comes in handy on an almost-daily basis. And unless you count teaching my son, or any number of teenagers who run him over at the science museum, I don’t teach now. But once a teacher, always a teacher. And since I’m still connected to my school by writing for their magazine, Inspire, and since I see myself as very involved in education for the rest of my life, the word remains on my business card.
When people find out I spent most of that teaching and principaling time with middle school students, they usually raise the other eyebrow. Some look at me with pity, as if I couldn’t find a job as a real teacher or a real principal in a real school like a high school. But middle schoolers are my people. And that’s how it is.
The second word on my business card is “writer”. People don’t know how to respond to that, either, and if they had a third eyebrow, I’m sure they would raise it. At a writing conference I went to recently, someone said that society looks at unpublished writers the same way they look at the lady who pushes cats down the street in a grocery cart. I’m currently working on a middle grade fantasy book about time-traveling seventh graders as well as a few picture books and a chapter book about a princess and a knight who solve scientific mysteries. I also freelance. And I have a blog, which you know.
Currently, I also volunteer for Better Decisions, a program that mentors inmates at the Tennessee Women’s Prison. That’s not on my business card, so I don’t know how people would react to that. But it involves going to prison weekly, so probably with another eyebrow.
The story behind the story behind the bio
I am originally from Seattle, a city that looks beautiful in gray, which is good because it wears it a lot. It was during my high school years in the drizzly city that I first began to toy with the hobby that is writing…or was it writing that began to toy with me?
In my undergraduate years in Philadelphia, I whiled away most of my time thinking about field ecology, a major that allowed for a lot of traipsing through the woods, digging in the dirt, and, in at least one incident, getting chased by hunters with bows and arrows. My love for the outdoors often informs both my writing and my experience as an educator–we make mistakes with our lives when we forget that we evolved in the fresh air. I may (or may not) have also studied economics, but I won’t admit it either way for fear that people will either expect me to know something about money and/or mistake me for an econ major.
After Philadelphia, I joined the Peace Corps and lived in Quthing, Lesotho, a town pronounced with a wonderful click simultaneous to the “Q”, a sound I duplicate poorly but as no one in the states is the wiser, they are usually mistakenly impressed when I say it. In this small country that is not only land-locked, but actually South Africa-locked, I found myself spending more and more time at the local school. It was here I realized that I wanted to teach, that the world is both small and awesome, and that it is possible to live without electricity, even if it does mean occasionally setting one’s hair on fire. (Whoever said reading was a safe hobby?)
I loved teaching, but one day the Head of my school came to me and said, with a very serious look on her face that she “wanted to consider a different job for me next year”. I though I was being fired. Instead, I was being offered the job of Middle School Head. I remember trying to keep a poker face as I wasn’t sure if I should smile, sob, or scream (in retrospect after having done the job, all three would have been appropriate).
When my family moved to Nashville, TN, it gave me the perfect excuse to jump off the fast-moving train that had been my college-grad-school-teaching-principaling experience and take some time to be with my kids and try to be a writer. I am so lucky to have that and I hope you enjoy this blog, one of my labors of love.
An evolving philosophy on life
My personal philosophies on life are most closely related to Winnie-the-Pooh’s Taoist tendencies and a love of Reform Judaism. And whatever hasn’t been said above will hopefully be cleared up with the following evolving philosophy on life:
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And I, I took the one less travelled by.”
– Robert Frost
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
– Yogi Berra
“Send someone to fetch us, we’re in Sasketchewan.”
– Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear
After all, you can plan and dream, you can be adventurous, and you can take the opportunities that come your way, but sometimes that means you end up in the proverbial Sasketchewan. And that’s not usually a bad thing.