Roots and Wings 2022: Event




          On October 12, 2022 in the Wakelin Room of the Wellesley Free Library, Roots and Wings presented an evening to celebrate WHS writers and teachers, and to explore the school’s exceptional legacy of creativity. 

            In heartfelt personal remarks that were sometimes intense, frequently witty, and often moving, the panel of four nationally influential WHS writers and two longtime and beloved WHS English teachers discussed their own experiences of how the school nurtured, challenged, and believed in its students. 

            The recording of the event is available here.

            The panelists, who had traveled from as far as Colorado to take part, were:  WHS writers Adam Haslett, Richard Preston, Vanessa Martir, and Nina Shop; WHS teachers Brooks Goddard and Jeanie Goddard; and Moderator/WHS writer Beth Hinchliffe. 

            There were special guest greetings from Debbie Crockett (daughter of the legendary English Department Chair Wilbury Crockett), Linda Barnes (the student in the iconic 1970 photo in the snow with Mr. Crockett; she became a writer and professor), and Leda Eizenberg (WHS writer, English teacher, and current Chair of the Wellesley School Committee). 

            The evening, which had focused memorably on the past and present, concluded with a powerful look into the future of WHS’ creativity, as current seniors Derek Jimenez and Maya McNeill delivered stunning readings of their own poems. 

            The “Panelists” section on this webpage (II.B) contains biographies of all the participants; the students’ poems can be found in section II.E. 

            The evening began with gratitude expressed to the following for their support of the Roots & Wings project:

            —our creative and contagiously imaginative Wellesley Library Director, Jamie Jurgensen, for believing in the vision of this project.  

            —deepest gratitude to the indefatigable and utterly remarkable Assistant Library Director Cara Rothman, for her enthusiastic support, professionalism, and extraordinary hard work.  

            —the Friends of the Wellesley Free Library, and President Barbara Marx, whose generous sponsorship made this evening possible (and for baking the homemade refreshments).

            —Wellesley Media, especially Community Producer Paul Falcone and Executive Director James Joyce, for videotaping the event and producing an impressive final product (as they always do for town events).

            —Wellesley Books, especially Ashleigh and Peter, for making the writers’ books available for purchase during the event, and for always being such a supportive and exciting resource in town. 

            —Deborah Brown of The Swellesley Report for covering the event and capturing its spirit, and Bob Brown for his interest in the project since the beginning. 

            —WellesleyWeston Magazine — to learn more about “Roots and Wings” and WHS writers, read the upcoming spring 2023 issue.  

            Dr. David Lussier, Superintendent of Wellesley Schools, attended and wrote the following in his Superintendent’s Letter:

            I had a chance to attend the remarkable “Roots and Wings” event at the Wellesley Free Library.  A group of WPS grads, who are now best-selling authors, described how their experiences in our district, and especially at WHS, impacted their lives and inspired them in their current roles.  Listening to these alumni describe, often with great emotion, how teachers like Brooks and Jeanie Goddard and Wilbury Crockett had a profound influence on their paths after graduation, I was reminded of the transformative effect that great teachers have on students.  Additionally, it was also clear that the many opportunities these students had to find their authentic voices and express them through writing, was a great example of the student agency we have been speaking of in our current work.