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Finding Hope Through Stories A

graduate of

Southern’s MFA

in creative writing,


Lee Keylock


longest winning streak in the show’s history — and made Hardenberg’s performance that So much so that when she was 9 years old, much more impressive. (Incidentally, Collins she saved most of her $3 weekly allowance subsequently lost on the next show, ending for a couple of months so that she could buy the streak.) “The Jeopardy! Book,” which would enable her Hardenberg calls herself an “accidental to play the game with her family and friends. trivia buff.” The problem was that nobody “There is very little rhyme wanted to play Jeopardy with her or reason for what I retain,” – not her parents, nor her younger she says. “It’s not a conscious sister, nor her friends. Nevertheless, decision to remember certain she maintained her interest in the things. I’m sort of an accidental game show – on and off – throughtrivia buff.” out her youth and adulthood. Hardenberg says her stronA few decades later, Hardengest areas of knowledge are berg finally got her wish to play probably literature, current the game with others. Only this events and pop culture. time it wasn’t a home version of Wendy Hardenberg The process to be selected the game, but rather the real thing in front of began with her taking an online test in January the show’s iconic host, Alex Trebek. 2013. “It was a 50-question test and I actuThe library instruction coordinator at ally had forgotten about it until I received an Southern got her big chance in February, email that spring inviting me to an in-person although the show just aired on May 30 interview in New York,” she says. In addition to on WTNH. She trailed in third place early, the interview, she was given another test, had finishing single Jeopardy with just $1,000. to do a video segment, and was then asked She moved into second place during Double to play a mock Jeopardy game with other Jeopardy, accumulating $9,000 — $2,600 potential contestants. behind the leader. In January 2014, she received an invitation In Final Jeopardy, Hardenberg successfully to compete on the show, which is taped in the wrote “What is Tennessee?” to a question that Los Angeles area. “They called me with only asked which southern state’s U.S. Senate seat about two weeks’ notice. My sister went with sat vacant for four years, and when filled, its exme and it was a lot of fun,” she says. occupant would became president (Andrew Hardenberg says the show was a wonderful Johnson). experience and that the staff was very accomShe wagered $7,201, which vaulted her modating. She watched the airing of the show to a total of $16,201, temporarily moving her with her family in Lebanon, N.H., where she into the lead. But the defending champ — Julia grew up. Collins — also had successfully answered the Hardenberg holds a Master of Library Final Jeopardy question with a $6,500 wager Science degree and a Master of Arts degree in and moved to $18,100. It marked the 20th comparative literature from Indiana University consecutive victory for Collins — the second in Bloomington, Ind. was a


Narrative 4 and the Power of Storytelling: Authors to Discuss ‘Radical Empathy’ Story Exchange at Lyman Center


Storytelling has always been with us, and the exchange of personal stories can open doors of communication. To harness this power, global organization Narrative 4 (N4) aims to promote “radical empathy” through story exchanges, a process that can break down barriers and shatter stereotypes. On Sunday, June 29, three of the world’s most influential author/activists will take the Lyman Center stage to discuss N4, which they helped found just over a year ago. “The Narrative 4 Story” – a discussion among writers Ishmael Beah, Colum McCann and Terry Tempest Williams, moderated by Narrative 4 Executive Director Lisa Consiglio and Newtown High Ishmael Beah School and SCSU teacher and alumnus Lee Keylock -- will take place at 2 p.m. in Lyman Center. Working closely with students, educators, artists and community leaders, N4 pairs high school students from different parts of the world and encourages them to walk in each other’s shoes by sharing their personal stories with each other. In less than a year, the organization has planned and conducted such story exchanges around the world, engaging nearly 1,000 participants. N4 teaches that stories are a key to better understanding one’s neighbors, society and each other. The program’s effectiveness has drawn the attention of the national press, including The New York Times, which has written about it twice in the past year: http:// and Beah, McCann and Williams are committed to helping N4 Terry Tempest Williams expand its reach. Beah is a Sierra Leonean author and human rights activist who rose to fame with his acclaimed memoir, “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier.” An Irish writer of literary fiction, McCann’s works include the novel “Let the Great World Spin.” Williams, an American author, conservationist and activist whose writing is rooted in the American West, is the author of “Finding Beauty in a Broken World,” among other works. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. For further information, call (203) 392-6154 or visit

photo: Marion Ettlinger

Wendy Hardenberg junkie as a kid.


photo: John Madere

Who is Wendy Hardenberg?

in touch with each other after going through it and become “ambassadors” for the program. N4 describes itself as teaching “radical empathy,” and certainly, as Keylock describes it, taking part in an N4 exchange can do just that. Because it can be so cathartic, Keylock says, teachers do follow-up activities with their students. “We are working on ‘sustainability’ as we speak, finding authentic ways for students to stay involved and feel relevant after the exchanges are complete,” he explains. He gives his own students questions to respond to in writing following an N4 exchange, encouraging them to talk about how the experience made them feel and what it taught them. Keylock recently made the difficult decision to leave his teaching position at Newtown to work for N4 in curriculum development. He says while he will miss teaching and his students, he believes in the N4 objectives and adds, “I can help a lot more people this way.”

photo: Brendan Bourke

an instructor in the English Department and a high school English teacher in Newtown, Lee Keylock’s professional life is all about stories, language and narrative, and teaching students to harness and use their power. After the Sandy Hook shootings in December 2012, on a day when he was teaching his classes at Newtown High School, Keylock, like so many who were close to the event, felt powerless to help his students. He began to search for ways to help them cope with the immense grief they were dealing with, and naturally, he turned to literature. A novel crossed his path — “Let the Great World Spin” by the Irish writer Colum McCann — and Keylock thought this might just be a book that could offer his students some hope. The New York Times has called the novel “the greatest novel to come out of the World Trade Center attacks.” Yet Keylock says Colum McCann, right the book ultimately offers a vision of redemption. Keylock wrote to McCann, asking for his help. In return, McCann sent Keylock copies of the book for his students and offered to come to Newtown to meet with them. In his meetings with students, McCann listened to their stories, but also told them some of his own, and he talked to them about an organization he had just helped found, called Narrative4 (N4). He explained to them that N4 is based on story exchanges: it connects groups of students from different parts of the country and the world, and then pairs students within the groups to exchange personal stories one on one. Each person must then retell their partner’s story back to the group. The stories can range from accounts of losing a parent to cancer or a friend to gang violence, to tales of first love. Some of the meetings take place in person, while many take place on Google hangouts because of distance. After McCann’s visit, Keylock was inspired to become involved with N4 and eventually became one of the organization’s lead educational advisers. He wanted to try an N4 story exchange with his own students. The organization was very new; the first exchange took place in Chicago in March 2013. The idea behind N4 is “to promote empathy through the exchange of stories” and “break down barriers and shatter stereotypes” by encouraging participants to see the world through each other’s eyes. Keylock says, “It’s easy to become cynical in today’s world. Narrative 4 is fostering a sense of hope. It is an authentic experience that makes kids feel heard and relevant.” In January, Keylock implemented exchanges with 180 students in four classrooms at Newtown High School, and he and his colleagues introduced the first official curriculum model in the classroom. In March, he and a teacher from Chicago’s Crane High School connected 12 students from the west side of Chicago with 12 students from Newtown. Keylock says that “kids find out they have the same hopes and fears,” no matter where they come from in the world. The process is very powerful, he says, and students often keep


Getting ‘Psyched’ About Reading Southern

psychology profes -

have been assisting two Connecticut elementary schools in identifying children who have reading difficulties and working with them to improve their skills. Deborah Carroll, professor of psychology, and Cheryl Durwin, assistant Deborah Carroll Cheryl Durwin chairwoman of the Psychology Departhelps schools to identify more accurately the ment, have coordinated a pilot project during students who need remedial reading help. the last year that involves K-2 students at Helen That also helps to avoid the pitfalls of having Street School in Hamden and St. James School students jump to more advanced reading in Stratford. They recently received a CSU assignments without mastering the skills that grant to continue the program next year, when provide the building blocks. they will track those same students. Carroll stresses that the Southern interns “Studies show that early identification and supplement the instruction provided by the remediation are key in enabling children who schools and enable students to get one-on-one struggle with reading to become successful attention that otherwise might not be available readers,” Durwin says. regularly. Although schools already use tests to deterShe adds that the interns use various mine students’ reading ability and whether a instructional methods when working with child has special education needs, some of those individual students, such as word family flash tests have questionable reliability and validity, cards and shared book reading to promote according to Carroll. Others don’t have norms vocabulary development and comprehension to use as benchmarks of comparison. in early readers. “As a result, schools frequently over identify Carroll and Durwin thanked Michael or under identify the number of students who Lorenzo, principal of Helen Street School, and need remedial help at that age level,” Carroll James Gieryng, principal at St. James, for their says. Carroll adds that Southern is able to participation in the program. offer tests that actually do have norms, which sors and students


SouthernLife • june 2014


Southern Life, June 2014  

A newspaper for the SCSU campus community