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After ASA College recently celebrated the literary accomplishments of professor Eileen Ressler at a full-house event held at the Manhattan campus, we had time to sit down with the prolific author and universally beloved professor to speak with her about her other passion – teaching. Here are a few excerpts from our conversation.

Interviewer: Could you tell me something about what keeps you energized as a teacher, (and how long have you been teaching)?

Professor Ressler: Since graduating with an MFA from Brooklyn College, I’ve taught for over 30 years, over 12 at ASA. The start of every semester is always exciting because I meet some of the most resourceful, dedicated people on earth – my students. They energize the classroom with their ideas, their challenges and their willingness to participate. Every class feels like a lively collaboration. We work together as they deliver speeches, critique literature and share their own stories.

Interviewer: Could you tell me about a noteworthy student or two (an anecdote) whom you had this semester or last semester?

Professor Ressler: So many – last year In English Comp 1, Joseph Amon Komagum, an international student from Uganda, shared his personal narrative in “Stolen Childhood.” He wrote about the war in his country, and the hardship of being forced to fight in the military as a child. He also wrote about his escape at age 16, and his journey back to wellness that has led him to his studies in the medical field and his new life in the United States.

Embracing the importance of his message, he generously visited all my Comp 1 classes to read his powerful and inspiring story. With such respect and appreciation for his courage, my students interviewed him. It’s students, or shall I say teachers, like Joseph, who have humbled me and kept my belief in humanity – and the power of literature – to keep us united.

Interviewer: Lastly, what is teaching to you?

Professor Ressler: Writing and literature have been a consistent source of pleasure for me. It’s been an honor to share that passion with my students – cracking open stories, poems and plays and listening to their interpretations; encouraging them to be authentic in their own writing; teaching them the skill sets that they need to be effective writers and editors of their work. And showing them how to keep the creative spirit alive!

You can learn more about her book collection and also purchase them by visiting her website: www.emerwin.com

 

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