Pollack Revives Creative Writing
By CC Trifoso
If you’ve been a part of the MSA Creative Writing program at all in the past four years, then you know the challenge of having a different teacher each year. As a senior myself, it has been confusing to transition year to year and figure out what each teacher expects from you. This year, Rebecca Pollack has taken on the job of Creative Writing teacher and has big plans for how she wishes to improve the program.
“I really don't see this as my program, this is the student’s program. I feel like it really is a balance of ideas that I bring and also what the students want to do. I want it to feel like there's freedom and choice in the program,” said Pollack.
Pollack has always been interested in being a writer and started her career in Southern California by working on films. However, she wasn’t feeling comfortable in that industry, so she decided to move back to Northern California where she could pursue her love of teaching.
“It’s really rewarding to work with kids and do some of the things I’m passionate about,” said Pollack. “I found that I really love education. It’s a lot of work, and can be really challenging at times, but working with students is very rewarding.”
Pollack is also very grateful that she gets to work with MSA. She stated that when she went to school in Marin, there was nothing like MSA to help direct young adults into art-based careers.
“This is a dream job for someone who loves writing, loves education, and for someone who wants to be innovative and creative,” Pollack explained. “Novato Unified is doing a lot of great things around trying to make learning more relevant for students. I’m a writer and I love creative writing and I love that I get to be a part of what goes on at Novato and to try and make student’s learning experiences more relevant. So it was a no-brainer that this position was kind of perfect for me.”
Novato High junior Allison Kong has been in the program for three years and also has been unsatisfied by the constant change of teachers.
“The change in teachers has been really hard for me and at times it's made me want to drop out of the program. There hasn’t been a lot of stability and with everything changing each year. It’s a lot,” said Kong.
But with the introduction of Pollack, Kong is excited about this year and her next year in Creative Writing. She hopes that Pollack will bring more creativity and structure to the program than previous teachers and give students more opportunities to share their work outside of Novato High.
Pollack’s biggest goal for the upcoming years is to find a balance in pushing students to produce their best work, try something new, and to step out of their comfort zone. She hopes that she can get the students to reflect on how they’ve improved and to measure their growth throughout their time in the program.
“I feel that engaging students to get their work out there, to different places, the more it will build credibility as a program and build confidence in the students. I’m hoping that continuity in small adjustments and students being pushed to write in a variety of areas, but also have a lot of voice and choice, is going to create excitement about the program for students who want to be a part of it,” Pollack said.
Pollack also mentioned the challenge of figuring out a way to harmonize what it is that she wants to keep doing every year and what she should add that's fresh. In the coming years, the main goal is going to be balance. How will Creative Writing shift year to year and how can the students aim to improve their writing throughout their time in MSA?
A lot of it will be having to play it by ear. Pollack stated how she wants to accommodate each student in how they feel comfortable writing by having some recurring writing activities and some fresh ones each year. What do we keep and what do we do differently to make sure the program works well? It’s really important to realize what the students enjoyed in an assignment and what they didn’t in order to make sure they get the most out of the program. Pollack wants it to work for the students, and she realizes nothing is going to be perfect. Yet, just like pieces of writing, she knows that there can always be improvement from the first draft.
Pollack does not plan on going anywhere. She’s a family woman, she lives in Marin, and is super excited to continue her journey with MSA. This is quite a relief for the kids in Creative Writing. By finally having a permanent teacher, the program should flourish, and students will be able to use their creative talents to the fullest extent to express themselves.
“There’s been a lot of change, and after so many teachers have been through, I feel like it’s hard to have continuity, but having one person stay with the program is going to help add consistency,” Pollack added. “I can see myself being in this position for a while and I’m really happy here; I feel lucky.”