Each year Middle School Principals are asked to nominate students for the Joseph Baldwin Academy held at Truman State during the summer months. Nomination qualitfications are identified as those who are high achievers as indicated by GPA, IQ, enrollment in gifted courses, high standardized test scores, or some equivalent measurement.
The Joseph Baldwin Academy offers highly talented students a head start on their future university careers by allowing them to spend three weeks as college freshmen: they move into a residence hall, adapt to living with a roommate, eat dorm food, make new friends, attend classes, and work with Truman State’s faculty.
Our 3rd stduent to attend the Summer Academy is Madison H, whose study program was the “Writer’s Craft”, under the direction of Dr. D’Agostino, Truman English Department professor. In working with Madison, he commented, “ We began our inquiries with our lenses zoomed in on a single word, to peel the layers of sound and sense from our most (or least) favorite one. Madison’s poem reconfigured the assignment (thankfully) to celebrate words plural, all of them, the whole proliferating swarm of words linking into phrases and sentences, paragraphs and books. It was this kind of fresh approach to any writing prompt that this summer’s writers quickly came to rely on from Madison. She was the most thoughtful and reflective writer in the group and any topic or text she considered always yielded surprising insights and rewards under her pen.
I’m especially grateful for Madison’s responses to our readings, those examples that model new possible approaches to explore in our notebooks. Not all young writers have the critical faculties to transplant writers’ strategies and “moves” into their own creative experiments. Madison always demonstrated how to identify specific parts of a writer’s style, and then how to try them out in our own writing. It’s such a crucial lesson for writers to learn, and with Madison, we had the perfect example to help guide our inquiries.”