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straight from the heart
of founder lorraine merrill
to young writers

I wish I could give you something. The way you have given me so much pleasure over the years with your own words, shaped into stories that make me laugh. Or think. Or feel.

The wisdom in you is old beyond your years.

The child in you is still very much alive.

I wish I could give you something. Some words you can store away in your heart and revisit from time to time. Words that will help you steer your wondrous adventure through life.

Every writer should make friends with a poet. So I shall share with you a poem by Mary Oliver. She is a poet worth befriending.

Like Magellan, let us find our islands
To die in, far from home, from anywhere
Familiar. Let us risk the wildest places,
Lest we go down in comfort, and despair.

For years we have labored over common roads,
Dreaming of ships that sail into the night.
Let us be heroes, or, if that’s not in us,
Let us find men to follow, honor-bright.

For what is life but reaching for an answer?
And what is death but a refusal to grow?
Magellan had a dream he had to follow.
The sea was big, his ships were awkward, slow.

And when the fever would not set him free,
To his thin crew, “Sail on, sail on!” he cried.
And so they did, carried the frail dream homeward
And thus Magellan lives, although he died.

About Lorraine


• The College of Wooster, BA 1954; English and speech

Post Graduate Studies
• Kent State University, 1977, 1978, 1981
• Akron University, 1982
• Cleveland State University, 1984, 1988

Teaching Experience

Teacher In-service and Staff Development (1991 to present) Montgomery County Schools (1992, 1993, 1994); Princeton JHS- Writing Workshops (1992, 1993, 1996-1999); BGSU (1993, 1996); Defiance College (1995); Medina County Schools (1995); Summit, Portage, & Wayne Counties- Akron U, Wayne Campus (1997).

Nordonia Hills City School District (1976 to 1991); teacher of English; 15 years at Nordonia Junior High (Grades 7 & 8); teacher of Language arts one year at Nordonia High School (Grades 10-12)

Pennsylvania State University (1970 to 1972); administrator of work incentive program for Department of Continuing Education; responsible for training para-professionals as educational aides in the field of exceptional child development.

Other Ohio Schools (1954 to 1961); Teacher of English, speech, and drama Grades 10-12 at Boston High School, Peninsula, Ohio (1959-1961); Wooster High School, Wooster, Ohio (1958-1959); Sycamore High School, Blue Ash, Ohio (1955-1956); Norwayne High School, Creston, Ohio (1954-1955)

Other Work Experience

Cleveland Society for the Blind (1974-1976) Manager of the Radio Reading Service for the Blind; responsible for launching and coordinating all aspects related to programming and broadcasting of programs to the blind and physically handicapped.

Multiple Sclerosis Society, Cleveland Chapter (1974-1975); Director of Public Relations and Development; originated and launched the nationwide development of the MS Readathon which currently reaps more than $25 million annually for research and rehabilitation of MS victims.

The Observer-Reporter (daily newspaper in Washington, Pa.) 1968-1972. As theater critic, columnist, and reporter, covered the entertainment field in the tri-county area of Washington, Allegheny and Greene, including Pittsburgh; lectured extensively in the arts.

Freelance Writer (1961 to 1974); sold more than 2,000 pieces of verse to major greeting card markets, as well as 12 books of inspirational nature; was commissioned to write under exclusive contract by Rustcraft and American Greetings; published wide variety of articles and children's stories; wrote a video-script (under commission) for the Stouffer Corporation. Still writes as time permits.

Extra-Curricular And Community Activities

Directed plays, supervised speech and debate competition, and directed the writing of scripts and performances of puppet programs as additional school activities during most of Ohio teaching experience

Play director for Washington and Jefferson College Faculty Drama Society (1968-1972)

Founded Washington Community Theatre (1970)
Founded Washington Arts Council (1971)

Wrote a full-length musical under commission by the Pennsylvania State University Council of the Arts for production (1972)

Boy Scouts of America, den mother, (1973-1974)

Speech and debate coach for Revere School District (1978-1981)

Originated and produced a student literary magazine for Nordonia (1979-1991)

Developed a junior high newspaper (1979-1991)

Originated and executed a writing program called Power of the Pen through grants from the Jennings and Knight Foundations (1985 to present)

Established the Ohio Interscholastic Writing League involving approximately 50 school districts in Northeastern Ohio (1986)

Obtained funding from the George Gund Foundation to expand Power of the Pen statewide (1988)

Incorporated POP as a non-profit educational organization under the guidance of a broad-based Board of Trustees (1989)

Founded Power of the Pencil, intrascholastic writing activities for 5th and 6th graders (2006-2007)

Honors and Awards

As OHSSL and NFL speech and debate coach, had the pleasure of coaching 15 NEO district champs, 10 state champs, and one third-place winner in the National speech competition

Ohio PTA Recognition Certificate for extra-curricular activities (1981);

Jennings Grants to Teachers Regional Certificate of Recognition (1983)

NJHS Teacher Recognition for theatre and puppetry programs (1985)

Nordonia Achievement Award (1985)

Teacher of the Year, Nordonia Hills School District (1986)

Runner-up District 13 Teacher of the Year (1986)

Rotary International Award for Outstanding Educational Achievement (1986)

Northfield Chamber of Commerce Award for Achievement in Writing Development (1986)

Christa McAuliffe Fellowship Award, State and U.S. Departments of Education- 1988-1989; commendation from the Governor of Ohio (1992)

Outstanding Woman in Summit County (2006)

Enabling Grants Obtained For Educational Programs

Martha Holden Jennings Foundation (1982); produced literary magazine

Martha Holden Jennings Foundation (1985-1988); three grants to launch and expand Power of the Pen, a series of interscholastic writing tournament in Northeastern Ohio

The Knight Foundation (1986); funding for NEO Regional Writing Tournament at Akron University

The George Fund Foundation (1987, 1988); funding for Statewide expansion of Power of the Pen

The Cleveland Foundation and Gund Foundation; continued support for Power of the Pen in 1990-1991

The Nord Family Foundation (1991); for the development of Power of the Pen in Northwest Ohio.

The Ohio Arts Council, The GAR Foundation, The Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, and The Turner Foundation; enabling grants for founding Power of the Pencil (2006)

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