Southeast Missouri State University alumna Lynne Dozier recently published her first full-length writing manual “The Writer’s Voice: 18 Lessons to Improve Writing.”
“The Writer’s Voice” has lessons on the history of the English language, SAT and AP test-taking strategies, improving vocabulary, media literacy and the importance of reading, and evaluation in developing a writer’s style. She weaves students’ voices, presented by poetry and essays, into the book as well.
Lynne developed the resource from materials and handouts she used with her students over her 30-year career. She has taught courses ranging from advanced placement to practical and creative writing courses.
She said she loves planning lessons, building a curriculum and “watching teenagers grow into confident, successful, effective writers with distinctive ‘voices’ and style.
“Staying in touch with them as they pursued careers in a variety of fields where they could use their communicative skills to make a difference in the world has brought me great joy,” Lynne said.
In addition, Lynne enjoys providing staff development and training sessions for other teachers, therefore indirectly affecting the students they will teach.
Current education statistics and the encouragement of her students inspired her to create the book in an effort to help students from other schools improve their writing skills.
“A review of national and state testing data shows a shocking lack of writing proficiency. In Texas, I am especially concerned that only 2 percent of ninth grade students are considered ‘advanced.’ That statistic will have implications for future SAT scores and college admissions,” Lynne said. “Teachers and parents are searching for resources that will help students achieve success in school and on standardized tests.”
Lynne began creating the book in 2003, and finished the final product in 2011. She published the manual after she retired in June 2011 from her position as a teacher and the chair of the English Language Arts Department at Klein Forest High School in Houston, Texas.
Born in St. Louis, she moved to Hayti, Mo., when she was in fifth grade. After she graduated from high school, Lynne went to Southeast and earned a Bachelor of Science in Education with majors in English, art and psychology, and a minor in social studies.
One of her memories from Southeast, which she also includes as an anecdote in her book, was of former English professor Dr. John Bierk. She said she was assigned a research paper and procrastinated, then rushed to finish it, hoping it would be good enough. When she turned it in, she received a “D” on it. She went to the professor, crying that she was from Hayti and had never written a research paper before. He told her he understood, and he told her she could rewrite her thesis and describe what she learned from her research for her final. He then told her to “buy a style manual and learn to write.” She bought and studied “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White.
“A second chance from a teacher who had allowed me to rewrite a poorly planned, sloppily researched and carelessly revised assignment nudged me along the writing path towards a career as an English teacher,” she said.
While student teaching, Lynne said she learned what not to do as a teacher, which was lecture daily and avoid eye contact with students. When it was announced that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, the supervising teacher, whom Lynne said was tired and near the end of her career, said there was nothing they could do about it and to open their books.
“I vowed then, that I would always consider students’ needs and interests as the most important element in a classroom, and that helped make me a successful teacher,” she said.
After she graduated from Southeast, she began teaching. She returned to school and attended the University of Houston, graduating in 1999 with a master’s degree in literacy education.
She has won several awards. She won the Klein ISD 75th Anniversary Diamond Award in 2013. She was an education honoree in 2012 for the American Association of University Women Outstanding Woman. She won the Bob Costas/College Board Grant for Excellence in Teaching Writing in 2010, the Klein ISD Superintendent’s Initiative Award in 2010, the Susan O’Connor Teaching Excellence Award in 2008, the Scholastic Art and Writing Award in 1998, 2004 and 2007, the KISD and Region IV State “Teacher of the Year” for 1994-1995, the Excellence in Education award from the University of Texas for the years 1991-1992, 1993-1994 and 1995-1996, and getting the “Who’s Who in American Education” from 1994 to 2011.
Her publications include her book “The Writer’s Voice: 18 Lessons to Improve Writing.” Her articles include “Teacher to Teacher: One True Sentence,” published in The Elements of Literature: Annotated Teacher’s Edition, “The 3 P’s: Prose, Poetry and Profits,” published in English Journal, “Oh, Teacher, My Teacher: Creating Live Poets’ Society,” published in Poet magazine, “Dances With Wolves: Lessons from Loo Ten Tant’s Journal,” published in English Journal, “Hayti, Missouri—1959” published in Getting the Knack: 20 Poetry Writing Exercises, and “Teaching Johnny to Spell,” published in English in Texas, a journal.
“The Writer’s Voice: 18 Lessons to Improve Writing” is available in both print and digital formats. Lynne worked with a student from Texas A&M to enhance the digital version, which includes interactive quizzes and links to helpful websites as well as the same content in the printed book. Her website, http://teacherweb.com/TX/KleinForestHighSchool/Dozier/apt15.aspx, includes helpful tips and advice for teachers and students as well. A portion of the sales from the book will fund grants and awards that aid in instructors who teach writing.
She is working on two other projects, editing a history of her church and her next book “The Last Assignment: Voices from English Classes.”
To the younger generation, she offers this advice.
“College is a microcosm of the ‘world’ workplace and academic community,” Lynne said. “There, you will learn to lead and to follow, confront and solve problems, develop a code of ethics and a sense of integrity, set and achieve goals, manage time and set priorities, interact with others in a collaborative environment, choose friends and a life partner, develop habits of good health, and ‘learn to learn.’ Make decisions carefully and wisely so the path to your future is safe, secure and satisfying.”