Teacher, author and 2010 Ovation Inspired Teacher for writing, Scott Gould has already garnered a bevy of awards for his writing and teaching, including a Surdna Arts Teacher Fellowship, Literature Fellowship from the South Carolina Arts Commission, a previous Gold Apple Teacher Award, and publication in Kenyon Review, Carolina Quarterly and New Stories from the South, among others. We asked him why he encourages students to participate in the Scholastic Writing Awards.

Scott: The Awards is the litmus test for young writers. It offers students the opportunity to see how they stack up against their peers across the country. We also know that the judges will be experienced writers who know how to recognize good work. The entry process has its value too. It’s akin to getting a manuscript ready for an editor. Students have to make sure their presentation is perfect, nothing out of place.And they realize that a stranger will know nothing about them, except what’s on a few sheets of paper. It’s a process that students need to go through in their development as writers.

So here’s what I have to say to fellow teachers: Don’t just think about entering your students’ work; go ahead and do it. The experience is worth all the effort. Trust me, your students want to know how they compare with their writer peers. They want the chance to put their work in front of professional writers. They want the chance to be recognized. One more thing: get a copy of Best Teen Writing and see what students are writing. Let your students read it. It’s a great resource.

We creative writing teachers take our students through the entire creative process, from a sort of fuzzy idea through all the revisions to the final draft. We encourage them, yell at them, send them back to the drawing board, etc. So when someone else out there in the world, like the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, tells one of our students that he or she’s done a good job, it validates all the work we did together. It’s the nicest kind of payback.

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