Writings by Miami Norland Senior High School students published in “Dear Freedom Writer: Stories of Hardship and Hope from the Next Generation”
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Seven students had their writing published in the widely read “Dear Freedom Writer: Stories of Hardship and Hope from the Next Generation.”
Precious Symonette, who teaches creative writing at Miami-Dade County Public Schools and has a PhD in the subject from St. Thomas University, has done a lot to make this happen.
Symonette said not long ago in her classroom, “‘Dear Freedom Writer’ is this book that elevates students’ voices, it elevates teachers’ voices. It lets you know exactly what is happening with students and that everyone should be listening right now.”
There is a group of students at Miami Norland Senior High School on 1193 NW 193 St. in Miami Gardens called the Viking Freedom Writers, and Symonette has weekly meetings there with students including Nija Maxwell, Jalen Waters, and Anthony Miley.
“When I got into this family, it took me away from all of the negative things and started showing me so much positive things about myself, about the world. It created a whole new mindset for me,” said Nija.
Anthony said that he had similar feelings towards his membership in the Viking Freedom Writers, which he referred to as “a family, a poetry club, and a place to just be free.”
Jalen thinks that writing has improved his understanding of who he is as a person, and that it has also provided him with a healthy outlet that is free of criticism.
“The paper doesn’t criticize you when you write; the paper lets you be who you are. When you write, the paper doesn’t judge you,” Symonette remarked through her emotions.
Additionally, Symonette emphasized the need to provide a secure environment in which her students feel free to share their own stories. This is something that she has been doing for many years.
“The only way that we are going to improve the educational experiences of all students is to be real and honest about what’s happening in our world and what’s happening to our students.”