At the Sept. 29 after school creative writing class held at Washington Open Elementary School, Jane Gilmore, teacher and founder of Joy to the Words, led families through Rainbow Storytelling Poker. Students and parents drew cards with different colors, each depicting an element of a story, such as character, setting and conflict. Prompted by the cards, the children wrote stories about an array of subjects, such as a dragon who got lost during a trip to an enchanted mountain, an astronaut who fell inside a volcano and a knight with magic glasses who got caught in a storm. Such was the creativity reaped from a lesson with Joy to the Words (www.joytothewords.com and www.facebook.com/joytothewords) which, according to its website, offers classes to students aged 7 to 18.
“I was able to start Joy to the Words because of the community at my children’s school, Washington Open,” said Gilmore. “The parents within the school community encouraged me and invited me to teach at Bookasaurus (a children’s book and toy store). Because my kids go to a parent participation school, that has changed my mindset about teaching. I always invite parents into the classes now.”
During the summer, Gilmore taught a class at Sunnyvale’s Bookasaurus. After the class was announced on Bookasaurus’s Facebook page, there were over 200 people who expressed interest in the class within 24 hours.
“There are private writing tutors that focus purely on academic forms of writing and they charge pretty high rates; it’s not affordable or accessible to middle or low income families,” Gilmore said. “I really believe in equity and giving access to all families so that’s how Joy to the Words was launched.”
Joy to the Words is offering upcoming writing classes in October that meet in Santa Clara. In her Harry Potter Writing Series, Gilmore will introduce students to similarities in the journeys among literary heroes. In College Essay Writing: UC Application Personal Insight Prompts, Gilmore will guide students through the “personal insight writing process.”
Separate from Joy to the Words, Gilmore will teach in the Saturday Seminar program with the San Jose Area Writing Project (www.sjawp.org). On Nov. 4, Gilmore will also lead a writing class for adults at San Jose’s 7 Stars Bar & Grill, a Star Wars themed bar.
“I’ve been a teacher for a dozen years; I’ve been on leave for the past two years after a breast cancer diagnosis,” said Gilmore, who shared that she is healthy now. “I am working on a woman’s fiction novel through Stanford Continuing Studies. Author Malena Watrous, a teacher in the program, is my mentor. My book is currently titled ‘The Weeks List.’ It’s about a women’s cancer group who gets into shenanigans as they live life to the fullest. I started writing the book at a writing retreat and three weeks later I myself was diagnosed with cancer.”