After reading “Other People’s Litter,” a whodunit published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in 2008, the entire third form was treated to a conversationwith its author, the Forest’s own Ted Blain.
Students were interested in Ted’s writing process, and much of the session wasdevoted to discussion of revising writing. Ted said he wrote “Other People’s Litter”over eighteen months, frequently setting the project aside. But he would revisit it laterbecause, “the characters would come knocking on my backdoor. I realized the storyhad a heartbeat and I needed to keep working on it.” He went through t welve versions,the first of which bore little resemblance to the published story students read.
The third formers were curious about how Ted manages the problems they oftenface when writing for school assignments. In response to a question about what hedoes when he runs out of ideas, Ted shared that he often leaves his computer andheads outdoors for a walk. Other residents of the Forest, seeing him on his dailyrambles, may not realize Ted is on really on a quest for the eureka moment that willlet a piece of writing continue.
Ted, who has published two mystery novels and numerous short stories under hisfull name, W. Edward Blain, has taught English at Woodberry for thirty-seven years,thirty-two of them as department chair. He currently teaches fifth- and sixth-formEnglish. Ted has announced his retirement in 2020, making this opportunity to meetwith him especially valuable for the class of 2023.
When Raphael Sydnor ’97 wanted his Spanish 3 students to internalize animportant Spanish grammar lesson — the useof the language’s different past verb tenses — heknew they couldn’t stay inside the four walls of hisArmfield Hall classroom. Though the unit of studystarted there, as boys wrote personal narrativesin Spanish and viewed a documentary film onmusical self-portraits, it soon moved to the artstudio. There, visual arts teacher James Ericksonguided the scholars in creating self-portraitsusing a mirror, pencil, watercolor, and Sharpies.Students showed off the results of their lookinward at an art exhibit and reception on October24, 2019, in the Walker Fine Arts Center.
Third Form Meets with
Author, English Teacher
An Artistic Look at Self
Helps Students Learn