Marie Doerner

"Writing from the USA"

by Marie Doener

When I left Australia in 1981, nobody could have predicted that I would be involved in an Australian book project about people, their lives and their dis-abilities. As a young mother, I stayed home with my children and then became a Science and Math teacher. But teaching in the large Los Angeles School District was challenging so instead I worked in smaller schools and private schools. That is how I found Landmark, a school for high potential students with learning disabilities. There I found my passion, my calling.

After the Northridge Earthquake, we moved to San Diego, and I began to work with adults with dis-abilities. Mostly my students were hoping to get their high school diploma or a vocational certificate. One challenge that raised its ugly head was the writing of essays, so I worked long and hard on teaching this skill. But something was missing. Students needed motivation. They needed relevant writing experiences. That is when I started looking for opportunities for my students to write meaningful pieces. We entered competitions like, “What is your favourite vegetable to take on a trip?” and “Why is your city the jewel of the nation?” My students finally found success in being accepted in a journal called “Women’s Perspectives.” Many of my students’ writings have been published in this journal. It has made a huge impact on their lives. Their writing improved and their motivation reached impressive heights.

So when I read about the book project on FaceBook, I jumped on it. I knew it would be a great opportunity for writing. At first, I thought my students would write their stories, but the book project really had enough stories from Australian authors. Then I offered to proofread or edit some of the stories. Fortunately, I was able to take a trip home in December 2017 and met with John Duthie and TM. We had lunch and I am so happy that they let me become part of the project. So far I have worked on three different stories with three amazing people and their family members.

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