Inspiring Students in Early Sobriety Through Academics
Professor Joe Lapin, MFA, on-site creative writing professor at Sober College, talks about his unique and award winning approach to educating.
Since joining the Sober College academic team, Joe has made prolific strides in improving our residents’ ability to articulate, paraphrase and capture ideas and emotions through his work as our on-site creative writing professor. These tools are vital to our residents, because, as recovering addicts and alcoholics in early sobriety, they are not yet capable of voicing the mass of emotions that arises due to extensive periods of drug and alcohol use. Having the ability to voice a difficult feeling is incredibly beneficial to the recovery process, and Joe’s work, both as a teacher and a mentor, helps our residents grow both in and out of the classroom.
“I hope that when you come into my classroom you feel like this is a completely different experience than you have had in other classes. I’m open to whatever you bring into the class. I want to take the strengths of my students and extrapolate them into something positive,” says Joe. His tone is of the utmost ease, almost lackadaisical. With just the appropriate amount of bodily and vocal animation, Joe is a walking fountain of knowledge and a published master of his craft, which is both prose and poetry, who has seemingly lost the pretense that many writers carry around with them. There is no hierarchy between Joe and his students; both stand on the same plateau, and there is certainly no “holier-than-
The key to building genuine relationships with newly sober young adults is taking a calm and compassionate approach. Joe has done this naturally with his students at Sober College. His friendly disposition makes him extremely approachable. He has a tendency to take students out of their comfort zones, which in this case, is a good thing. His questions cause you to think on your toes, provoking a thoughtful and uncalculated response rather than a droll and deliberate one. This is another example of what makes Joe’s teaching unique and award winning; he is naturally a teacher, friend, and mentor to each one of his students. http://www.youtube.com/
“I think that writing is a process and that too many teachers, in the beginning of that process, stress the wrong things. I think they stress spelling and grammar rather than expression,”
Joe says, “We write to discover. We pose questions, and we try to answer them the best we can, and in the process, we listen to music while we’re doing it…And it’s to create an environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves, being creative, and liberating the imagination!”