About Laurie Woodward:
t children to see the magic inside them,” says long-time educator Laurie Woodward. “I want to empower them. I would like students to learn how helping others resolve conflicts peacefully makes the world a better place. They learn that giving to others builds self-esteem and creates memories they can be proud of for a lifetime.”
As an author, her published works include Artania, Forest Secrets and co-writing The Dolphin Legacy. Laurie was also a collaborator on the Dean and JoJo anti-bullying DVD, Resolutions. Every book contains a lasting message of hope showing the reader that when one is true to him/herself bullies can be defeated in both real and fantasy worlds. She uses her role as an author to inspire a new generation of writers.
In Forest Secrets, children learn about the necessity of care for nature and the forest and apply it to other environments. The message is about teaching children to care for the environment and its inhabitants. When an eleven-year-old girl befriends a tree creature, she uncovers a plot to illegally log in a protected forest. She then sets off on an adventure to save all tree people and an endangered species from destruction.
“It’s my dream to see the impacts of anti-bullying and peace resolution continue to cross borders. We see how we are individually bullied, group bullied, and society bullied, and correlate this to the bullying of our planet and its fragile ecosystems. We learn individual solutions to bullies, group solutions to promote peace, and also ways to work together to help each other worldwide. I’d like to continue to share the program globally so that children across the planet can realize this dream: Everyone can make an impact and provide healthy solutions for humanity.”
As a fifth grade teacher, Ms. Woodward endeavors to empower children in a myriad of ways. First, Woodward is an award-winning peace consultant who helps other educators teach children how to stop bullying, avoid arguments, and maintain healthy friendships. For twenty years she has worked in Title One schools with large concentrations of low-income students, second language learners, immigrants from diverse cultures, and gang families. For the past five years, she has worked as a teacher and student coach to ameliorate bullying.
She thus developed a series of comprehension questions and lessons that she began using in the classroom with quite successful results, having fewer conflicts and bullying that spring. She then contacted the producers with her ideas and was thrilled when they sent Dean Bernal to film some of the lessons for future versions of the DVD. In October of 2010, he shot scenes at Taylor Elementary of students making Peace Cards, engaging in role-plays, and signing contracts to become Dolphin Ambassadors for Peace.
In 2011, she became a team coach and coauthored more peace curriculum with other teachers. (Offered free on line.) Be the Sea was designed to provide strategies for any teacher to create a positive, peaceful classroom which gives children ownership of conflict resolution. Here, strategies to promote compassion in children were introduced. Then, positive conflict resolution was promoted with a series of art, writing, role-playing and other activities.
From 2010 – present day Ms. Woodward has coached students as both mediators and ambassadors for peace. In both programs the children use scripts, Ms. Woodward wrote to learn to accept differences, improve listening skills, and break the re-active cycle. Through a series of role-plays and rehearsals, children learn to disagree without animosity, build confidence in recognizing win-win solutions, process anger, and other emotions, and solve problems.
Once students are trained they act in one of two roles. As Dolphin Mediators, they monitor recess behavior and mediate conflicts. If students are having a disagreement they can go to a Dolphin Mediation team to help them come up with a win-win solution. Dolphin Ambassadors go into other classes and present anti-bullying lessons with the school counselor. Ambassadors help their peers to recognize bullying behaviors, the role of bully, victim and bystander, and what type of responses are assertive. The goal is always to empower students to use their own creativity to find resolutions.
Be the Sea empowers children to have a voice. The benefits to the community are that children engage in less fighting by learning to use their words in assertive positive ways. Also, the accompanying publicity gives children pride in finding alternatives to bullying. Woodward’s class was featured in a Santa Maria Sun article from November 4, 2010, titled, “Respect: Find out what it Means to Santa Marians Working to Prevent Bullying and Intolerance.”
In helping students address the needs of how to deal with the issue of bullying, this program also builds vocabulary, comprehension, essay writing skills, and public speaking. It empowers children to have a voice as they learn new ways to resolve conflicts. The benefits are that children engage in less fighting by learning to use their words in assertive positive ways.
Along with her work in her own district, Ms. Woodward has shared the program worldwide. In December of 2011, she presented a webinar for educators, counselors, and parents with naturalist Dean Bernal for the Teachers Without Borders Education Program. Video clips of her working with students are included in the Alternatives to Bullying DVD which is available globally. Directions for peace and anti-bullying lessons are available free on line via deanandjojostory.com. She also promotes peace through art on her own website Artania.net and blogs regularly to share innovations, ideas, and inspirational stories of children working for peace.
In January of 2015, she was interviewed about her work for the award-winning NPR radio show Journeys of Discovery. She is presently working on having children correspond with each other across cultures. Through digital film, google innovations, and skype technology students from Australia to the Dominican Republic to the Middle East are communicating creative ways to resolve conflicts. Personalities, such as dolphin naturalist Dean Bernal, are now sharing the message of peace through child empowerment across the globe as teachers from multiple cultures learning about peace and healing.
In addition to spearheading anti-bullying efforts, Ms. Woodward volunteers as Student Council advisor. Most recently she received a grant to film these students implementing the peace program and engaging in school spirit activities. She also coaches her school’s Battle of the Books team. This is a national competition to encourage reading. She believes strongly in fostering the unique abilities of each child through the arts. Her major assignments all have an artistic component. An accomplished dancer, Ms. Woodward choreographs, at least, one number yearly.
What inspires you to write?
My students inspire me daily.
Tell us about your writing process.
I write first thing every day. As soon as I’ve gotten my coffee, I cozy up and look at what I’ve written the day before. I revise these pages and then refer to my outline as a basic structure. Since my Artania novels have multiple points of view, I start with POV: Character name and what that chapter should achieve be it deepening characterization, increasing suspense, moving the story to new locations etc.
I also make extensive character sketches and setting descriptions for before beginning.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I dream as if I am my characters. I pretend to be them and act out scenes as if I’ve taken over their body.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write, write, write. Read across genres and ages
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I believed my story would inspire children.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I believe that authors will increasingly become their own promoters and publishers.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Middle grade and YA fantasy, memoir, science fiction.
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.