The J. Williams Mees Visiting Scholar Program, named in honor of longtime Lawrence Academy English teacher J. William Mees, brought nationally acclaimed author Andre Dubus III to the Lawrence Academy campus for a series of workshops and lectures in early February.
Mr. Dubus grew up in Haverhill and is the author of New York Times bestseller The Garden
of Last Days and, most recently, Townie, a memoir. He was on campus for two days, conducting workshops, visiting classes, and holding a question and answer sesssion open to the public in the Richardson-Mees Performing Arts Center.
“LA seniors have been reading his novel Townie and the freshmen are reading the first chapter of Townie and studying the use of detailed language in their own writing,” says Director of Studies Chris Ellsasser. “Students in our honors writing course
and students in a our junior seminar classes have read his short story Forky and will be talking with him about what it means to live as a writer, how he became a writer, and the choices he made while writing the short story Forky.”
In English teacher Colin Igoe's class, seniors had the opportuity to ask questions of Mr. Dubus about the process of writing and how he approaches character development in relation to plot development. He also spoke about the editing process and how to go about shopping a novel for publication. In addition, students got to hear a very forthright and honest Mr. Dubus talk about his personal life and the impact that has had on his life as a writer. "I never know where a story is going to take me," said Dubus. "Most writers, myself included, don't plan out an intricate story or plot. It develops as you go. It comes out of you and takes you somewhere and develops itself. Often, I learn something from readers who have picked up on an idea or theme that I myself wasn't aware of when I was writing."
More About the The J. Williams Mees Visiting Scholar Program
Lawrence Academy's J. Williams Mees Visiting Scholar Program (VSP) was created in 2011 with support from the E. E. Ford Foundation. The VSP provides funding for a preeminent scholar or professional to visit Lawrence Academy each year as well as provides a stipend for a Lawrence Academy student to pursue summer work in his/her field of interest based on his/her time with a visiting scholar/professional. "The VSP provides students at LA with opportunities to learn in the company of scholars who visit classes, work closely with students, and make presentations open to the public," says Chris Ellsasser, Director of Studies. "Visiting scholars and professionals introduce other voices into our community and it gives students an opportunity to consider a variety of perspectives and develop an appreciation for the need to consider issues from a variety of perspectives."
Mr. Ellsasser went on to say, "We believe in preparing students to not only talk to and amongst themselves about issues but to participate in the public discourse regarding current affairs. Preparing them well to navigate the myriad views and opinions on a given topic is vital to their success as global citizens."