Dear Friends,

This year The Telling Room turns 15. As we enter the peak of our adolescence, we are often struck by the parallels between the teens we're lucky enough to work with and our own organization.

For one thing, we've been busy--and we've been everywhere this past year! We delivered programs from Kittery to Richmond and from Lewiston to Rockland. As the beneficiary of two incredible community events, we traveled down our street for Eimskip's Northern Lights holiday party and across Casco Bay to run in the TD Beach to Beacon 10K. We even went to Boston with over 40 Telling Room students to listen to Michelle Obama talk about her book, Becoming--and we all left inspired to write more and to share more.

Through it all, our amazing students won awards for their writing, launched multiple publications filled with compelling poems and stories, and made their voices heard far and wide.

Like all teenagers, we continue to take steps from adolescence to adulthood as we look ahead to the future. We're strengthening our systems and processes from top to bottom in order to support and sustain our work, become a national leader in literary arts education, and better serve our students and community. This past year, we focused on three key areas:

Evaluation update - We standardized our evaluation to a common tool that now tracks our mission impact across all our programs. But we're particularly proud of how we did it: our new survey is a lively, engaging teaching tool that integrates into our programs, instead of simply a worksheet for students to complete.

Racial equity - As an organization we took the first significant steps to examine all our programming and practices through an anti-racist lens. We've begun the process of turning our learning and reflection into action, with changes to our hiring process, curriculum, and approach that will make our work better and stronger.

Youth publishing - Publishing student work has always been core to the work of The Telling Room, but usually as an end product rather than an intergral part of the work of students and teachers. In the last year, we've begun to build publications into the design of our programs from the very start, asking how the book will be used, what the launch will look like, and how the release of the book will enrich the student's experience in the program.

Teenage heart, optimism, and creativity is not enough, though--we also need the structure, guidance, and support to keep stretching and growing. We get that from all of you. None of what we do would be possible without The Telling Room staff, teaching artists, volunteers, board members, and donors. Thank you for being a valued member of The Telling Room community--thank you for believing that the power of writing and storytelling helps create a more connected world. 

In 2020, The Telling Room will continue to deepen, grow, and thrive--reaching young writers and their readers throughout Maine and beyond. And like any 15-year-old, we can't wait to see where we're going next. 

With joy and gratitude,

Celine Kuhn
Telling Room Executive Director

Tim Schneider
Telling Room Board President

 

Who We Are

The Telling Room is a nonprofit literary arts education organization in Portland, Maine. Our mission is to empower youth through writing and to share their voices with the world. Focused on young writers ages 6 to 18, we build confidence, strengthen literacy skills, and provide real audiences for our students’ stories through the provision of free creative writing, literacy, and arts programs for over 3,700 Maine youth each year. Since our founding in 2004, we have served over 28,000 students from all over the state, published 15 major anthologies of student work with over 12,000 books in print, and grown into an award-winning nonprofit organization. We have been recognized for our achievements through awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Maine Association of Nonprofits, the Maine Arts Commission, and the Maine Department of Education’s Imagination Intensive Communities program, among many others.

We work with students who may be reluctant to write as well as those who already identify themselves as writers, including: children and young adults who are a part of Maine’s growing community of immigrants and refugees, those with emotional and behavioral challenges, students struggling in mainstream classrooms, homeschoolers enthusiastic to join a creative community, LGBTQIA+ students, incarcerated and other under-resourced youth, and passionate young writers who benefit from support beyond what their schools are able to provide.

 

Our Programs

All core programs at The Telling Room are 100% free to students and their families, ensuring that the students who need our services most – the students who are least likely to have a voice in the community – can participate. Our fun, innovative writing programs are the heart of our organization.

Through skilled, creative, and resourceful program delivery, we minimize overhead and maximize impact.

Each year, our programs are linked by a new theme, and the best student writing from the year is published in a major Anthology released every spring at a community event attended by hundreds of supporters.

We run literary Field Trips for language arts classes that bring students from all over Maine to our Old Port writing center for a morning of enrichment.

We visit schools to teach multi-week In School Residencies in which Telling Room writing teachers and community volunteers work in a local classroom to publish an original chapbook.

From June to August, we offer a variety of Summer Camps for writers of all ages and interests.

We teach an annual nine-month-long writing and leadership program for immigrant, refugee, and first generation youth called Young Writers & Leaders.

In our Young Emerging Authors program, we host four students, selected through a rigorous application process, to write an entire book with us in a single calendar year.

Our Publishing Workshop invites current students and alums to learn publishing skills alongside professional editors and designers during the editorial and production processes of Telling Room book assembly.

We host weekly community Writers Block afternoons that give burgeoning writers time to work on their projects. Each session offers solo writing time, group work, and featured workshops with local artists and writers.

And, we developed Second Story in 2018-19. This new program will focus on strengthening writing and leadership skills while incorporating college readiness and creative expression. Social justice and community-building components will be woven into both models. 

 

2018-2019 Programs at a Glance

PROGRAMS: 99

PROGRAM HOURS: 1,641

STUDENTS SERVED: 3,447

 

Field Trips: 32 total programs, 97 program hours, 625 students served

Workshops: 17 total programs, 204 program hours, 338 students served

In-School Residencies: 22 total programs, 392 program hours, 382 students served 

Writers Block: 3 total programs, 162 program hours, 112 students served

Young Writers & Leaders: 5 total programs, 170 programs hours, 72 students served

Publishing Workshop: 2 total programs, 50 program hours, 22 students served

Young Emerging Authors: 1 total program, 75 program hours, 4 students served

Summer Camps: 17 sessions, 491 program hours, 221 students served
 

*We also ran 41 special events and programs for our students outside of regular program hours.

 

Our students came from:

Arrowsic
Arundel
Augusta
Biddeford
Bowdoin
Bowdoinham
Brunswick
Cambridge, MA
Cape Elizabeth
Cumberland Foreside 
Dayton
Dexter
Dresden
Falmouth
Freeport
Gorham
Gray
Hancock
Harpswell
Kennebunk
Kennebunkport
Kittery

Lewiston
New Canaan, CT
New Gloucester
North Yarmouth
Owl's Head
Peaks Island
Phippsburg
Poland
Portland
Richmond
Rockland
Sanford
Scarborough
South Portland
St. George
Standish
Thomaston
Topsham
Wayne
Wells
Westbrook
Yarmouth
York

 

We offered services to these students with the help of the following collaborators:

Acadia Academy
Augusta Schools
Biddeford Elementary School
Biddeford Middle School
Bonny Eagle
Cape Elizabeth High School
Casco Bay CAN
Casco Bay High School
Dayton Elementary School
Deering High School
Dexter Regional High School
Fiddlehead School of Arts and Science
Gorham High School
Gray-New Gloucester High School
Great Falls Elementary School
Kaler Elementary School
Lewiston 21st Century
Lewiston High School
Maine Arts Commission
Maine Center for Electronic Music
Maine Historical Society
Maine Huts and Trails
Maine Virtual Academy
Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance
Marcia Buker Elementary
Mast Landing School
Mt. Ararat Middle School
Multilingual & Multicultural Center
Narragansett School - Gorham
Oceanside High School

Oceanside Middle School
Portland High School
Portland Museum of Art
Portland Press Herald
Portland Public Library
Portland Public Schools
Portland Stage
Portland Symphony Orchestra
Richmond Middle School
Ripple Effect
Sail Maine
Sanford Alternative High School
Shapleigh Middle School
South Portland School Department
SPACE Gallery
St. George MSU
State Theatre
Sunflower Farms
The Portland Phoenix
The Portland Sea Dogs
Tree Street Youth Center
UNUM
Village Elementary School
Virginia College of Fine Arts
Wells Junior High
Westbrook 21st Century
Westbrook High School
Westbrook Performing Arts Center
Yarmouth High School
York High School

The Anthology Project: Speak Up

Voice. It's a concept that lies in every piece of writing, within the minds of every reader, and in the characters on the page. In this brand new anthology, Speak Up, The Telling Room's authors dive head first into the whispers and screams of our experiences and imagination. Reading this collection of work, you will hear the voice of an outcast lamb, a girl who is in covetous of the water on Mars, the dismay and wonder of a narrator whose identity does not fit into a box, two simple flowers' polite conversation on a hillside, and your own voice reflected in these words. You will also hear a call to action, a plea to speak up, a warning about the grave consequences of staying silent, and an entreaty instead to write and share the stories and poems of your lives. 

We published our 13th annual anthology of student writing, Speak Up, featuring the best writing to come out of all of the projects listed above--this year, with the organizing theme of VOICES. With hundreds of deserving pieces to choose from, our Publishing Workshop crew of students, volunteers, and staff had to work hard to choose just 42!

We hosted our annual Big Night event to launch Speak Up to the community and showcase the work of our students throughout the year with multimedia presentations, musical performances, readings, and more. Over 250 community members were in attendance and yet again the night received rave reviews from the audience. It was remarkable to see the auditorium full of Telling Room students, parents, teachers, volunteers, and supporters, all gathered to buoy a talented cast of young writers. 

If you couldn't make it for Big Night, you're in luck: Thanks to Thorne Kieffer we have a recording you can view at: https://bit.ly/2YWIV1p.

 

Program Highlights

 

FIELD TRIPS

We had a terrific time with all our field trip groups. One highlight was a Deering Alternative Education group that came to us to help kick off their personal narrative unit and ended up liking it so much that they signed on for a full residency in 2019-20! We'll be working with them on a book publishing project.

Another highlight was building a relationship with Gorham Elementary Schools--we had 11 groups visit us from the 4th and 5th grades. We tried out a new sensory writing curriculum on them, and it was a hit! We've made tweaking our field trips a part of our fall teaching artist training, and it's become a great way to keep our field trip curriculum fresh. Gorham signed on to come back in 2019-20, and we hope to build a similar relationship with them to what we've developed in South Portland School Department. This past year we hosted all the South Portland 4th graders from all five schools for the 7th consecutive year!

 

WORKSHOPS

It's hard to only pick a few highlights because one of the great things about workshops is that they often give our teaching artists a creative playground to do fun exercises that are very different from what students might normally be exposed to in their regular curriculum. We happen to have several accomplished songwriters among our teaching artists, and they did a fantastic job with the Biddeford and Kaler elementary groups they worked with. It's always fun to hear a group of kids belting out a song they wrote!

The podcast project at Mast Landing was also exciting. It was the first time we've made a podcast that aimed to capture the feel of the program in addition to the authors' words. Our lead teacher Kathryn was able to put together audio of the sessions and recordings of each writer's poem to make a kind of project report that is engaging to listen to. Listen to the podcast here: https://bit.ly/2Xkq4sX

 

RESIDENCIES

Residencies continued their trend of being highly in demand - we were booked for this entire year by the end of spring 2018. The Casco Bay CAN book project was a fun collaboration that came together later in the academic year. We went in to a couple of area high schools and worked with 12 upperclassmen on narratives of advice to incoming freshmen. Casco Bay CAN works to create awareness about the harms of substance use and promotes healthy lifestyles, so several of the pieces in the book addressed those topics specifically. The book was distributed to almost 800 freshmen in five local high schools, and we are thrilled that the schools have embraced the book and taken steps to work with it. A digital version also went out to parents, so the distribution of the book is well over 2,000 copies--our largest ever!

Our anthology project sparked some excellent programs, and our theme of VOICES produced interesting and unexpected results. The 6th graders at Oceanside Middle School in Thomaston received a fun challenge from their lead teacher: Don't just tell a true story - write about truth itself. The title of their book is What if it's True: A Compilation of Truth, Lies, and Lessons Learned. We appreciated this take on voice; when do we speak up to tell the truth, and when do we keep it hidden? The stories ranged from comical to serious. One of the unusual bonuses to this program was that we decided to combine two classrooms into one large group. Typically we shy away from larger groups (this one was 30) and say that 15 students is our optimal number. Because we had three teaching artists working on the program, plus two invested classroom teachers, we decided that for a project like this one it could be interesting to put kids who don't always work together in the same room. It worked! At the final reading, which was a tremendous success, you wouldn't have known that the newly published authors were from two different classrooms - they felt like one cohesive group. 

 

WRITERS BLOCK

The young writers in our Story Sleuths cohort spent six sessions during the winter term exploring the world of podcasts. They split up into small groups, and collaboratively decided what subject they wanted to focus on and what style of recording they were interested in. One group was smitten with the idea of Vox Pop and hitting the streets to talk to strangers, while another was more interested in investigative journalism. They wanted to explore a theme related to climate change and took it upon themselves to zoom in on a local story, and researched the issue of warming waters in the Gulf of Maine. They even looked up who was the chief scientist at GMRI and interviewed him! This was the first time that we attempted to put together a podcast in such a short time, but the students' determination and comfort with technology made it a fun experience. This was a great example of how Writers Block can provide a space for student-led projects, group work, and community connections. 

 

YOUNG WRITERS & LEADERS (YWL)

This year--our last year of planned program expansion for YWL--we worked with another amazing group of high-schoolers! The nine-month YWL module served 31 students in our nationally recognized creative youth development program, up from 15 in 2015. We started the year getting to know each other and writing about cultural identity and what each student brings to the group from their varied backgrounds in Angole, Azerbaijan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, France, Gabon, Liberia, Iraq, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, and the United States.

The students presented their original poems in October, which included a group performance piece responding to the statement, "I use my voice to..." Then they worked with their mentors writing their personal narratives for eight weeks and presented them to packed houses--about 300 total in two performances--at the beautiful Portland Museum of Art. Students then worked in small groups to produce short documentary radio and multimedia pieces about subjects they met on the streets of Portland. Presentation of these works concluded the year in June when the students presented at a new venue, the Maine Center for Electronic Music.

Other program highlights included hosting visiting poet Kifah Abdulla and a panel presentation by local authors Jaed Coffin, Abdi Iftin, and Phuc Tran. Our students were among the first to see Jaed's galley for his second book, Roughhouse Friday, hear an excerpt from Phuc's soon-to-be released memoir, Sigh, Gone, and learn about Abdi's newest projects. The authors also did speed reads and offered feedback on students' works in progress. The students loved being able to connect to our larger rich and talented writer community. Their group chapbook I Haven't Forgotten was released in May and once again, several YWL pieces were accepted for The Telling Room's Annual Anthology.

Additionally, we successfully provided the second year of YWL to 16 Lewiston students in a one-week April intensive, again partnering with the Lewiston 21st Century Learning Program and Tree Street Youth to help coordinate students and provide the space for the intensive. The week culminated in a final performance for an audience of over 30 people including family, friends, and Lewiston High School teachers and administrators. And we brought eight more Lewiston students down for our final one-week intensive to join Greater Portland area students in June. Another fantastic year all around!

 

PUBLISHING WORKSHOP

In the fall semester of Publishing Workshop, students worked with publishing program staff and volunteers to put together Maine's only literary magazine created by and for teens, We Gen Z. Their mission is to shine a light on their own generation, Gen Z, and empower each other through creative expression. Students and adults worked together to determine the audience for the magazine, recruit art and writing submissions from teens around the state, select which pieces would be included, create front and back matter content for the magazine, and plan the launch event. Overall, We Gen Z published writing by 21 Maine teens, many of whom were new to The Telling Room. Congratulations to all of the authors and artists represented in this powerful magazine!

As a result of successful Publishing Workshop programming from the previous year, several highlights presented themselves throughout the 2018-19 school year, as well. Students who co-wrote the children's book Little BIrd's Flock during the fall 2017 semester of Publishing Workshop held readings and events for the book at the Rowe School in Portland, Print: A Bookstore, and the Coffin School in Brunswick, all of which were well received. The authors sat with all 175 first and second graders at Rowe School, having the opportunnity to read the story together and talk about the process of making the book. The students were excited to meet the authors and illustrator, ask them questions, and even show them the artwork they all made inspired by the book. We love opportunities to have our student authors share their stories with other students!

Little Bird's Flock was also nominated by the Maine Humanities Council and chosen to be the children's book to represent Maine at the Library of Congress' National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.. It was officially inducted into the Library of Congress' Center for the Book. Last but not least, the annual anthology edited by the students in Publishing Workshop during the spring 2018 semester, Atomic Tangerine, won the distinction of the Best Anthology at the Maine Literary Awards in June. A BIG year for The Telling Room's publishing arm!

 

YOUNG EMERGING AUTHORS

Young Emerging Authors had another successful year, with four fellows--a very precocious sixth-grader, a high school junior and two seniors in high school (twins!). They produced a fantasy novel, a collection of poetry, a collection of short stories, and The Telling Room's first hard STEM title, a book about quantum mechanics for kids. The fellows were well chosen--up to the task, enthusiastic, supportive, eager to experiment and to learn, and extremely diligent. Every one grew significantly as a writer, a student, and a person. The mentor pairings were especially fruitful this year. We had one returning mentor and three new to the program (two of whom were new to The Telling Room in general). The fellows really soaked up this time and advice, and every mentor ended the program with glowing praise for their mentees. All mentors expressed a wish to participate again in the future and were actually sad to see their biweekly meetings end.

On the fellows' ends, it was impressive to see our novelist's ability to trim her book significantly--killing your darlings is a tough thing for any writer, a hard-earned skill, and especially for younger writers. Our poet was very detail-oriented this year, and it was a highlight to watch her and her mentor, an experienced and professional poet, sit and pick apart a poem as peers. In our short story writer's own words to her mentor, from her book of acknowledgements: "Nothing feels better than the tiny epiphanies and little victories about dialogue and sentence order I got to have with you at our wooden table. Thank you for running through the weeds of my stories with me." This writer really honed in on and distilled her voice, in a way that we think surprised and delighted even her. Lastly, our 12-year-old exhibited an extraordinary amount of focus, discipline, and persistence. His book had a lot of moving parts to juggle and more deadlines than the others, and he met every one. Also, he got a foreward and a blurb from two of his own physics heroes!

 

Jojo Rich: Founders Prize Winner

JoJo Rich, a senior at Portland High School, wrote "How to Build a Closet" while taking part in The Telling Room's Queer Characters Camp over the summer. She cites J.K. Rowling as the author who inspired her to start writing, and when she's not working on the bits and pieces of stories she has scattered around, she can be found participating in Portland High School's drama club and cracking bad jokes to anyone who will listen. You can hear Jojo read the poem here: https://bit.ly/2Xf6QF3

How to Build a Closet

First, you construct the baseboards out of bias.
They build up around you from the moment you're born,
in all the little things people say more than the things they scream.
              "That haircut makes him look gay."
              "You're going to make your husband very happy someday."
              "Don't look at her like that, people will think you're a lipstick lezzie."
The villains in all of your favorite Disney movies are queer-coded
--Scar, Ursula, Jafar, all of them--
and the only time you see queerness on TV, it's a punch line or a tragedy.
You have your baseboards.

The doors are made of fear.
They sprout from the bias that has always
surrounded you and lock you inside.
Every time someone you love scoffs at the idea of queerness.
Every time you see old men on street corners or television
screaming, "Homosexuality is a sin!"
Every time a rumor starts that one of your classmates is gay
and you are expected to shun them, the doors get heavier.
You don't even get to know yourself before you start to feat what you could be.

You fill the closet with shimmery, soft knock-offs of silk and velvet,
and these are the lies.
                 "Yeah, he's cute, I guess."

                 "We're just really good friends!"
                 "I just haven't found a boy I like yet."
Whether you tell them to yourself or the people around you,
they seem to make the closet gentler, padding the walls and giving you comfort.
But the more you tell, the more the closet fills up
until they're pressing in on all sides, and you can't breathe,
and you realize they don't feel as good as you thought they did.
They're fake.

Acceptance is the handle.
You dropped it somewhere along the way in construction,
but you find it again eventually.
                  Your mother smiles, says,
                  "She sounds lovely."
                   You can breathe again.
You use your courage to screw it back into the empty slot
in the doors of fear and swear the closet itself is fighting to keep you
in.
That's silly, of course.
It's just a closet.

Finally, the handle fits,
the door swings open,
and you learn for the very first time that there is a whole world,
open and flooded with sunlight, right outside of the closet door.

 

THE POWER OF YOUTH VOICES

At a time when we're all faced with the daily challenge of hearing truth above the noise, The Telling Room is committed to listening closely to youth voices. We believe that youth stories inspire positive dialogue, open minds, and create new lines of communication. Our 2018-19 theme of VOICES was part of our effort to collaborate with young writers across identity groups, across cultures, and across fields, giving them the confidence to create, to speak their minds, and to become leaders in our community and beyond. 

In August of 2018, The Telling Room alumnae Edna Thecla and Judica'elle Irakoze travelled to San Francisco with Publications Director Molly McGrath to participate in the inaugural International Congress of Youth Voices. They met civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis and acclaimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Edna's thoughts on sharing her writing and the personal narratives of other students published in The Telling Room book A Season for Building Houses with Congressman Lewis:

"It was my duty to represent all youth voices, and putting a copy of A Season for Building Houses in John Lewis's hands, and sharing the pages of it with him, was a huge accomplishment for me. Because now The Legend is a reader of that book."

An excerpt from the reading Judica'elle gave on the culture of silence:

"We must speak, start speaking. We must practice owning our voices, embracing our voices, and using our voices. We must refuse to deny each other the ability to speak, but also start listening. Then we can dismantle the culture of silence."

 

A SPECIAL INVITATION FROM MICHELLE OBAMA

In the fall, we received a personal invitation from former First Lady Michelle Obama to hear her speak about her life and her new book Becoming in Boston. In her invitation to our students, Mrs. Obama said, "I've spent a lot of time thinking about story and the stories of others--how gloriously diverse they are, how there is so much more to learn from each one, and just how powerful it is to listen when someone finds their voice and decides to share their story." It was extraordinary to see her and hear all about her writing process! Read more about the experience here

 

Volunteer Spotlight

 

ACTIVE VOLUNTEERS: 185

VOLUNTEER HOURS: 4,675

ESTIMATED VALUE OF VOLUNTEER TIME: $108,086

Nancy Butman

At The Telling Room, we are so grateful to be supported by a large community of energetic, dedicated, and knowledgeable volunteers that work with our students. Every year, we recognize a volunteer who has truly gone above and beyond for The Telling Room and our students. Nancy Butman has been instrumental in helping in a variety of programs throughout her volunteer tenure with The Telling Room. Last year she joined residencies and workshops in Gorham and Freeport. She also volunteered in our writing studio for many Field Trips, Writers Block sessions, and was an extraordinary writing coach for the Young Writers & Leaders program. Nancy works wonderfully one-on-one with students, engaging them to dig deeper in the writing. She is as comfortable with a rowdy group of 4th graders hitting the pavement with cameras as she is with reluctant teenagers trying to hone in on their personal narratives. Nancy brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and dedication to the organization. Thank you, Nancy! 

 

Spotlight on Our Supporters

 

Eimskip Northern Lights Holiday Party   |   TD Beach to Beacon 10K

We had the honor of being the beneficiary of two amazing community events. Thank you, again, Eimskip and Beach to Beacon!

What an incredible time we all had at the Scandinavian Northern Lights Christmas Charity Event in December 2018! Thanks again to all who came out to celebrate, dance, bid, and support the amazing students we work with. And a big thanks to Eimskip, KeyBank, Bristol Seafood, Pierce Atwood LLP, CMA-CGM, Groupe TYT, and Colby Company Engineering for their generous sponsorship and stellar community spirit. Thanks, too, to all the terrific auction and raffle donors and the food and beverage purveyors extraordinaire--such a perfect night! The proceeds from the event were used to support students statewide--future leaders whose voices will have a significant impact on our community now and in years to come. 

Enormous thanks once again to the TD Charitable Foundation and all the teams behind the TD Beach to Beacon 10K for selecting us as the 2019 beneficiary and being such stellar community partners. From cheering on young runners at the Kids Fun Run, to watching Team Telling Room give it their all on race day and having our students participate at the finish line and the awards ceremony--it was exhilirating from start to finish. 

We also want to thank Sea Bags, Mad Gabs, and Clynk for their support of The Telling Room through the TD Beach to Beacon, our Team Telling Room runners for their fundraising as well as all of the other racers who donated through registration, all of the volunteers who make the race happen, and Joan Benoit Samuelson for her vision and her big-hearted commitment to this world-class event. 

 

The Financial Story

 

Donors

Huge thanks to the generous individual, corporate, and foundation donors who supported us this past year.

 

See our full donor list here

 

Our 2018-19 Team

 

STAFF

Celine Kuhn, Executive Director
Peyton Black, Volunteer and Programs Coordinator
Andrew Griswold, Creative Director
Shima Kabirigi, Young Writers and Leaders Teaching Artist 
Blaire Knight-Graves, Communications Manager
Clare LaVergne, Publications & Community Engagement Coordinator
Molly McGrath, Publications Director 
Amy Raina, Teaching Artist / Book Designer
Rachele Ryan, Development Assistant / Office Manager
Sarah Schneider, Development Director
Sonya Tomlinson, Young Writers and Leaders Program Lead
Nick Whiston, Programs Director
Marjolaine Whittlesey, Lead Teacher
Kathryn Williams, Lead Teacher
Marlin Pamba, Multilingual AmeriCorp VISTA
Interns: Sara Caplan, Jenny Ibsen, Julianna Kiley, Lily Maass, Meredith Mitchell, Gillian Raley, Sophia Scanlan, Lily Tedford, Phillip Tran
 

 

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

President
Patty Howells
Cooking Teacher

Vice President
Tim Schneider
General Counsel and Principal Consultant
Tilson Technology Management

Treasurer
Lydia Atwood
Manager, Valuation Services Group
BerryDunn

Secretary
Anya Endsley
Associate, Private Clients Group 
Verrill

Ekhlas Ahmed
The Telling Room Alum
Teacher, Westbrook High School

Chris Bicknell
Executive Director
New Beginnings Inc.

Chelsea H. B. DeLorme
Writer

Dan Edwards
Principal
Edwards Creative

Alisan Kavookjian
MSW

Kate Swan Malin
Co-Founder
Sassy Media Group

Jerry Mopembe
Diversity Recruiting Program Manager
UNUM

Beth Stickney
Consultant

Donna Simonetti
Retired

Peg Smith
Partner
Pierce Atwood

Sean Tabb
Senior Marketing Manager
L.L. Bean

 

COMMITTEES

Development Committee
Patty Howells, Chair, Board President
Mary Baumgartner, Community Member
Andrew Griswold, Staff
Celine Kuhn, Executive Director
Jerry Mopembe, Board
Rachele Ryan, Staff
Sarah Schneider, Staff
Peg Smith, Board Member
Ruth Story, Community Member

Finance Committee
Lydia Atwood, Chair, Board Member
Celine Kuhn, Executive Director
Rachele Ryan, Staff
Sarah Schneider, Staff
Tim Schneider, Board Vice President
Donna Simonetti, Board Member
Sean Tabb, Board Member

Show & Tell Committee
Alisan Kavookjian, Co-Chair, Board Member
Kate Malin, Co-Chair, Board Member
Peyton Black, Staff
Susan Conley, Writer
Sarah Cotsen, Community Member
Andrew Griswold, Staff
Ann Hayes, Community Member
Patty Howells, Board President
Lily King, Writer
Celine Kuhn, Executive Director
Katie Magoun, Community Member
Sean Mewshaw, Director
Tania Powers, Community Member
Amy Raina, Staff
Rachele Ryan, Staff
Sarah Schneider, Staff
Sonya Tomlinson, Staff

Governance Committee
Dan Edwards, Chair, Board Member
Patty Howells, Board President
Celine Kuhn, Executive Director

Human Resources Committee
Beth Stickney, Chair, Board Member
Chris Bicknell, Board Member
Jen Harnish, Community Member
Celine Kuhn, Executive Director

Super Famous Writers Committee
Susan Conley, Writer
Lily King, Writer
Celine Kuhn, Executive Director
Andrew Griswold, Staff

Publications
Molly McGrath, Staff
Clare LaVerne, Staff
Kathryn Williams, Staff
Amy Raina, Staff
Anja Hanson, Former Board Member
Catherine Fisher, Former Board Member
Sean Tabb, Board
Donna Simonetti, Board
Cameron Jury, Telling Room Ambassador
Evgeniya Dame, Designer, Intern
Ashley Halsey, Designer, Contractor
Jenny Ibsen, Artist, Volunteer
Melissa Kim, Editor, Volunteer
Jane Armstrong, PPS Teacher/Administrator
Edite Kroll, Literary Agent
Ann Hayes, Scholastic VP

Program Evaluation 
Dr. Caroline Shanti, USM School of Social Work
Elora Way, Data Innovation Project
Daniel Cassidy, Research Assistant
Peyton Black, Staff
Nick Whiston, Staff

Program Development (Task Force)
Melea Nalli, Community Member
Jeff Thaler, Community Member
Alison Isara, Student
Mona Abdelkader, Student
Celine Kuhn, Executive Director
Marjolaine Whittlesey, Staff
Anja Hanson, Former Board Member
Liam Fay-LeBlanc, Student
Anya Endsley, Board
Beth Stickney, Board

 

How to Support The Telling Room

Donating to The Telling Room is about believing in our students.

The Telling Room began as a grassroots group of volunteer writers and educators fueled by a belief in the power of the written word to change our community for the better. Your belief and financial support makes it possible for The Telling Room to be what it is today: a thriving nonprofit organization with a paid staff of twelve, three interns, a volunteer teaching artist in residence, and 250 volunteers serving over 4,000 students each year. We are a registered 501(c)(3) organization, so all donations are tax deductible.

Tax ID # / EIN: 74-3136956

VISIT OUR GIVE PAGE TO SUPPORT YOUNG WRITERS