Dates in Sitka: 2013-09
Ann Staley has been teaching and writing for the last four decades in the normal settings – high school, community college, college and university and in some less traditional ones as well: Oregon Correctional Facility for women, a women’s group where we read everything from a Harlequin romance to Alice Walker’s, The Color Purple, and always including the poems and essays she was, herself reading.
Ann was born in Pennsylvania and came “west” in the 1970’s in her blue VW bug. She traveled 10K miles because she picked up hitchhikers and took them all where they were going. An inveterate letter-writer, she also visited all the folks she’d kept in touch with since grade school and right on through Peace Corps, Brazil, where she was a community organizer. When she arrived in San Francisco she could turn either left or right. She chose Route 1 heading north and ended up in Oregon. That first year she lived in a cabin, had her first garden, learned to chop wood and bake bread in an oven and to read by kerosene light. By spring she was missing, not town, but working with adolescents. Ann applied for teaching jobs but didn’t have a phone to be called in for an interview. A diligent principal who also was looking for diversity on his staff hired her. She wore long skirts and Birkenstocks that year as she taught a Sports Literature, American Indian Literature, and a T-Group experimental class in a school which offered English electives. There was no State testing – a great time to be an educator. It’s been a much narrower and buttoned-down curriculum since, and though she helped devise the scoring rubric for the state writing tests, she thinks a portfolio is a superior assessment tool for proving what a student is able to produce under pressure and also without being under pressure.
Ann has three masters degrees: Humanities, Master of Arts in Teaching, and Public Policy and Leadership, that last one from Stanford where she went thinking that she wanted to be a school principal. She loved the classes and professors at Stanford but when she shadowed a principal at the conclusion of her internship she used a stop watch to study time-on-task. The wonderful elementary principal, the only woman in the Palo Alto SD in the mid-eighties, she clocked her in at 2:46 seconds – the longest she spent on anything during a day and a half. Ann returned happily to the classroom and put a note on the door: Do Not Interrupt This Class Unless The Building Is On Fire! Even the Secretary obeyed.
On her gravestone she wants the following: Loved This World, Pen In Hand.
Ann participated in the first Collaborative Residency, with Norm Campbell.