“Xan’s Creative Words class I took in my junior year of high school really opened my mind to the concept of poetry. My only true knowledge of poetry prior to her class was of things I’ve found for myself, much less the basic overviews of American poetry which my previous generic English classes glossed over. For the first time I truly witnessed all kinds of different styles from all kinds of different authors I’d never really heard of before, and I really enjoyed it! Xan managed to teach me in a way that got me further interested in the subject, and since I took her class, I’ve written and performed on my own, and even participated in a few poetry slams. To top it off Xan is an inspiring individual of whom I consider a great influence.”
~Eric Whitehead, AMHS class of ’14, University of British Columbia
“Xan changed the way I view poetry, writing, and literature by creating a safe environment where I could explore, create, and really think instead of having ideas pushed upon me. I learned more than I ever had in an English course because she allowed me to explore my own thoughts, emotions, and feelings about each piece of literature I came across; And through this exploration, I genuinely understood where the author was coming from. However, the knowledge I gained about each individual poem or author was not as important as the life lessons I gained from Xan. I learned how to explore my inner thoughts and express them in a way that turned those emotions I felt into artful pieces of creative writing that I could share with the rest of the world. I felt more confident in my abilities to express myself, and this confidence transcended into many other aspects of my life helping me grow in multiple ways, not only in the English classroom”.
~ Veda Gupta, AMHS class of ’14, Rice University
“I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still,” a quote by Sylvia Plath which I believe illustrates the experience of having Xan as a teacher, mentor, and friend. Coming from someone who has always had a passion for writing and an enjoyment for the English subject, I have always recognized talent and the eagerness to write in others. Xan vividly expressed her spiritedness for writing through her incomparable teaching techniques, bewildering us private school students who were so used to the cookie cutter forms of teaching. Who else can say their English teacher brought in her guitar and sang and played for their class? What I love most about Xan is her unmistakable confidence in who she is- she is vibrant and colorful, but at the same time warm, open, and accepting, which is what every teacher should be. She gained my respect quickly through her particular grading, as she definitely does not hand out A’s undeservingly- always making me question my writing abilities but nevertheless motivating me to continue to work harder. She religiously emphasized the need to practice writing- it needs rehearsal and polishing, it is something that constantly could be worked on. Any finished piece could always be worked on and made better, something no English teacher had ever really emphasized to me before. Xan opened my eyes to the mystifying world of poetry, and encouraged me to fall so deeply in love with it. I recognized the passion she has for unique wording and hidden deeper meaning, which were portrayed so evidently through her teaching techniques. She encouraged me to join the Creative Writing Club where students were encouraged to write freely outside of the classroom. Whether poetry, short stories, or even the beginning of novels, students were able to express themselves in a welcoming environment. Xan helped transform this amazing club at our school, which is why I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had Xan as a teacher. She clearly has an enjoyment for what she does and a love for her students. Her classes are challenging and intriguing, and they encourage you to embrace writing head-on. I have loved having such an incredibly impactful teacher and mentor and any student would be lucky to have her!
~ Caroline Crocket, AMHS class of ’14, Purdue University