Roots and Wings 2022: Participants



           The panelists, who had traveled from as far as Colorado to take part, were:  WHS writers Adam Haslett, Richard Preston, Vanessa Martir, and Nina Shope; 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. 


Adam Haslett

       Adam Haslett has twice been a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for his books of fiction, and has been heralded by The Wall Street Journal as “one of the country’s most talented writers.” 

       After graduating from WHS in 1988, he received a B.A. in English from Swarthmore College, an M.F.A. in creative writing from Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a J.D. from Yale University.  His debut collection of short stories, You Are Not A Stranger Here, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, was a New York Times bestseller, and was named by Time Magazine “one of the five best books of the year.”  It was reviewed as “a beautifully written collection of short stories that explore mental illness, death, depression, homosexuality, and how we experience our own pain, as well as the pain of others.”  

       Haslett’s first novel, Union Atlantic, noted for being “the portrait of the culture of impunity that led to the Great Recession,” was published just as the 2008 financial crisis began and helped give insight into it.  The book was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize, and won the Lambda Literary Award.  

       He received the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, and was named New York Magazine’s “Writer of the Year.”  

        Imagine Me Gone, his astoundingly well received second novel, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, whose judges described it as “the quiet and compassionate saga of a family whose world is shaped by mental illness and the challenges and joys of caring for each other.”  It was also a finalist for the National Book Award, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was named one of the 20 best novels of the decade by Literary Hub.  A reviewer noted, “with his striking emotional precision and lively, inventive language, Adam Haslett has given us something rare:  a novel with the power to change how we see the most important people in our lives.”


Vanessa Martir

        Vanessa Martir is a writer, educator and social activist. The 1993 Wellesley High School graduate and Wellesley ABC Program alumna credits Brooks Goddard for introducing her to Latinx writing when, in her junior year, he gave her How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents by Julia Alvarez. This was one of the critical steps to Vanessa becoming a writer. Her Humanities teachers Jeanie Goddard and Gerald Murphy inspired and encouraged her commitment to social activism, which Vanessa says she’s carried all these years. Vanessa’s work has been widely published, including in The NY Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Poets & Writers, and numerous anthologies.  

        She is the recipient of the 2021 Letras Boricuas Fellowship, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; a 2019 Bronx Recognizes Its Own Award in Creative Nonfiction; a 2019 AWP Kurt Brown Award in Creative Nonfiction; and a 2013 Jerome Foundation Award.  

        Vanessa is the creator of the Writing Our Lives Workshop and the Writing the Mother Wound movement. Her heart genre is creative nonfiction, and she’s also a novelist, poet, and playwright.


Richard Preston

          As a little boy in Wellesley, Richard Preston’s dream was to be a starship colonist heading for Alpha Centauri.  That child would have been astounded to know that, although he won’t make that trip, there is now an asteroid named for him (Asteroid3792Preston) which, as his adult self notes, “travels on a wild orbit near Mars, and could some day slam into the earth.” 

            Richard earned that improbable honor, signifying the respect of the scientific community, as the author of ten meticulously researched and compulsively readable books which mesmerize the general public with their brutal insights into urgent scientific crises, and have even pushed a president into action.  His first was the #1 New York Times bestseller The Hot Zone (one of his “non-fiction thrillers,” this one bringing the terrifying threat of the Ebola virus to the stunned consciousness of the world), which inspired the movie Outbreak, starring Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman. 

            Richard’s books, which explore dramatic, hidden worlds of nature and human experience, have been translated into 35 languages.  They include The Cobra Event (immediately after reading it, President Clinton ordered a review of bio-terror threats to the U.S.); The Demon in the Freezer (giving disquieting insights into the fights against smallpox and anthrax); First Light and American Steel (more non-fiction books, these about astrophysics and the steel industry); Panic in Level 4 (essays about researching his books); Micro (he completed the unfinished novel started by the late Michael Crichton); The Wild Trees (alerting the world to “the delicate forest canopy ecosystems”); and his latest, Crisis in the Red Zone

            In addition to the naming of the asteroid, he also received numerous international awards, including the American Institute of Physics science-writing award and the National Magazine Award.  He is the only non-physician to receive the Champion of Prevention Award from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. 

            Richard has taught nonfiction writing at the University of Iowa and Princeton University.  In 2006 he was a member of a four-person climbing team that made the first ascent and measurement of the world’s tallest tree, a California coast redwood named Hyperion (currently 380.1 feet tall).  Currently, he is Writer in Residence at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, in Cambridge. 

            Richard (WHS 1972), who grew up in town with his brother Douglas (also a best-selling writer of thrillers), recalls, “in the afternoons I would ride my bike to the town library, where I delved into Mark Twain, Robert Heinlein, Madeline L’Engle, Ernest Hemingway.”

            In writing about what was important in his Wellesley childhood, he says “I had some outstanding teachers in high school.  They included Jeanie Goddard, Gerry Murphy, and the late Wilbury A. Crockett.”  Richard was a panelist at the “Roots and Wings” event on October 12, 2022.

Nina Shope

       Nina Shope grew up in Wellesley and attended Bates Elementary School, Wellesley Middle School, and Wellesley High School, graduating in 1993.  She is a proud recipient of the WHS Sylvia Plath Award for writing.  She studied with English teachers Dee Fralick, Jeanie Goddard, Ronna Frick, and Marisa McCoy during her years in high school.  

      Nina’s debut novel, Asylum, won the 2020 Dzanc Fiction prize and was released in May of this year.  Her collection, Hangings: Three Novellas, won the Starcherone Books Award and was published in 2005.  She is the recipient of the Calvino Prize from the University of Louisville, the Jeremy Lake Memorial Fiction Prize from Syracuse University, a residency from the Millay Colony for the Fine Arts, and the Barbara Banks Brodsky Prize from Brown University.  Her writing has appeared in a number of literary journals and several anthologies.  She holds a B.A. with Honors in Creative Writing from Brown and an MFA in Fiction from Syracuse University.

       Of Hangings, a reviewer wrote “it blazes a new direction in writing … and is a brave, scorching leap in experimental fiction, a stunning and audacious work of lyricism, style, and astonishing grace.”  A review of Asylum said “Shope’s is thrilling writing at the intersection of prose and poetry; a fever dream of passion, trauma, and nightmare… it is a brilliant and visionary book by a brilliant and visionary writer who is grabbing hold of the fiction genre and crashing it wide open.”  

About Asylum:


[Brooks Goddard, Wilbury Crockett, Jeanie Goddard, and fellow WHS English teacher Ronnie Bretholtz]

          Brooks Goddard earned his BA in 1963 from Williams College, a diploma in Education from Makarere University in 1965, and an MA in Languages and Literature from Teachers College at Columbia University in 1969. He taught English at Deerfield Academy, English as an education officer in Kenya for Teachers for East Africa/TEA, English and life at Upward Bound, English at Wellesley High School for 30 years (20 years as Department Chair), and for the past 12 years adult education at Wellesley-Weston Lifetime Learning, Regis College Lifetime Learning, and Needham Community Education. His favorite courses to teach were sophomores, America with colleague John McDermott, and The Nature of Man/English 41. Throw in an acting English Department Headship at Needham HS for a year and a term at Westwood High School. Brooks was WHS tennis coach for 14 years and The Boston Globe Boys Tennis Coach of the Year in 1984.

     He loved the classroom, and he loved his students, many of whom he still is in contact with. He is editor of the niche but very readable book, We Were Walimu Once and Young, Snapshots of Teaching in East Africa by Jugum Press. An inveterate world traveller and reader of such, his Swahili motto is “dunia ni maarifa” [the world is knowledge]. His 53 year love affair with wife Jeanie is the glory of his life.


         Jeanie Goddard received her AB in English and BS in Education at Simmons College in 1966 and her MA in English from The Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College in 1971. During the fall of 1965, she completed her student teaching at Wellesley High School and began her life long devotion to her mentor, Wilbury Crockett, WHS, and her students. She even met her sweetheart Brooks when he joined the department during her third year of teaching. Jeanie taught sophomore and senior English classes, Shakespeare, and, for many years, Humanities with her great friend Gerry Murphy. Jeanie and Brooks’ son, Peter, is in his 24th year as an English teacher at Newton North HS, and their daughter-in-law Natasha taught English and was department chair for many years at the Wellesley Middle School. They make us proud. Almost all of their friends are either former students, former parents, or former colleagues. After her retirement, she ran the English Education department at BU for 4 years, worked as a Museum Teacher at The Gardner Museum for 7 years, and now volunteers at the Needham Public Library.

     Jeanie has always been in awe of the creativity and fearlessness of her students, and she attributes the stunning number of writers to the independent spirit that informed their WHS English classes. She is delighted to be working with Beth Hinchliffe, one of her favorite former students, on this project.


Beth Hinchliffe

          Beth Hinchliffe, Wellesley’s official town historian, award-winning playwright and author of non-fiction, and White House speechwriter to President George H.W. Bush, credits her literary career to “the extraordinary inspiration, mentorship, and nurturing of my WHS English teachers — the iconic Jeanie Goddard, the brilliant Susan Alexander, and the legendary Wilbury Crockett.”  

          After WHS, she graduated from Wellesley College, completed her graduate work in English literature at the University of Cambridge, and did a post-graduate fellowship in political literature at Trinity College, Dublin.  In Wellesley, the town where she was born, she has written for the Townsman since she was 12, and served as Editor.  She also wrote the official town history book (Five Pounds Currency, Three Pounds of Corn), and has published hundreds of articles about Wellesley life and history.

          Internationally, Beth has received awards for non-fiction articles, essays, and plays (inspired by historical events, such as the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland; and the life of Sylvia Plath, in a play which was selected for production at the Edinburgh International Festival).

          After writing speeches for a Member of British Parliament, and then for U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler, Beth became speechwriter to President Bush, writing the second greatest number of speeches for him during his presidency; focusing on international policies and the signing of legislation such as the Americans With Disabilities Act.  She continued to write his speeches in his retirement.  

          Beth and her 10th grade English teacher Jeanie Goddard created “Roots and Wings:  Wellesley High School’s Legacy of Nurturing Creativity” to celebrate the school’s unique contribution to literature.  For generations, extraordinary writers — embraced, encouraged, and inspired by their teachers — have graduated from WHS and enriched the country through their writing: a remarkable literary legacy. 


Derek Jimenez

            Derek is a Senior at WHS who was selected to read one of his poems at the “Roots and Wings” event October 12, 2022.  He has been drawn to the Arts for much of his life. He draws, he paints, and he writes poetry. For him, poetry is the realm of freedom, and he writes to address and understand his feelings. Derek also uses his way with words in his job in marketing. When he is not writing, Derek is Captain of the Track Team and a star hurdler who has just committed to Occidental College in California.


Maya McNeill

WHS senior Maya McNeill (WHS 2023) closed the Roots and Wings event with an impassioned reading of her searing poem “The Intentions of Poetry.” Maya, a veteran of open mic sessions, has already published a poem in the collection To My Kin, and has applied to several of the Historically Black Colleges for next fall.

       Maya, a senior at WHS, was selected to read one of her poems at the “Roots and Wings” event on October 12, 2022.  As a member of the creative organization 617 Peak, a platform for Boston youth to find their voices by sharing their stories through written and spoken forms, Maya is a veteran of open mic sessions in the city and enjoys performance poetry. For her, poetry is her way of nurturing her mind, body, and soul. She has already published a poem in the collection To My Kin. When she is not writing or performing, she works at City Hall in Boston. She has applied to several of the Historically Black Colleges for next fall.


Linda Barnes

Debbie Crockett

Leda Eizenberg