English teacher’s writing featured on National Public Radio

Jason Fieber

English teacher Steve Hettleman’s recent publication on National Public Radio (NPR), and added to the many highlights throughout his extensive writing career.

Hettleman’s perspective piece, which aired on Nov. 18, was published on KQED, the local affiliate of NPR. His piece detailed how a childhood experience at summer camp influenced his current approach to teaching.

Despite receiving little attention for this achievement at Redwood, Hettleman said the experience itself was more valuable than any publicity.

Hettleman credited two major inspirations with leading him to begin writing the piece.

ENGLISH TEACHER Steve Hettleman published a perspective piece on NPR last month. Hettleman describes the impact a childhood experience at summer camp had on his teaching approach.

English teacher Steve Hettleman published a perspective piece on NPR last month. Hettleman describes the impact a childhood experience at summer camp had on his teaching approach.

“A friend I have, who teaches at Kent, had published a perspective and encouraged me to write one,” Hettleman said. “My AP Language [and Composition] kids were also writing at the same time and I wanted to write along with them.”

Hettleman said he used his writing process as a model for his students.

“I wanted to show [my students] that even people who are older benefit from the writing process,” he said.

According to Hettleman, his students played a role in his path to publication by helping him make edits on his work.

“The fact that this piece was published is actually a testament to the feedback that [my students] gave me,” Hettleman said. “I took suggestions that they gave me and tinkered with the piece before I submitted it.”

Hettleman’s writing has also been published in a Japanese textbook and in an alumni magazine for his alma mater, Northwestern. Hettleman said the excitement of publishing a work doesn’t wear off.

“[That feeling] is completely validating,” he said. “It is wonderful because it feels like somebody appreciates something that you had to say.”

Hettleman said that when he first moved to California, he tried to write short fiction, but was unsuccessful.

“I discovered Dave Barry and I thought he was incredible, so I tried to write stuff that imitated what he did. I discovered that what he did was incredibly difficult,” he said. “Then I went into teaching and I just dabble here and there with different writing projects as time permits.”

Hettleman uses his  free time to focus on his writing projects and also on teaching, which plays a crucial role in his process.

“A lot of my writing process is just thinking,” he said. “Then, once I have an idea, I like to write for an hour or an hour and a half, tops. Then I have to put it away and come back to it.”

Hettleman added how influential language has been in his writing.

“The thing that is always most interesting to me is the way that words sound,” he said.

Hettleman added that teaching has played a huge part in keeping him writing and improving his writing.

“Teaching has been instrumental because I read so much and I study how language works,” Hettleman said.

He added that he now has a greater understanding of language than he did when he first moved to California to pursue a writing career.

Hettlman said that he would like to write and publish one piece a year.

“I’ve accumulated a lot of stories over my lifetime and I like telling those stories. I think the next step for me is to think about those stories and think about why I like telling them,” Hettleman said.

Hettleman’s perspective piece was published on Nov. 18:

Click here to view Mr. Hettleman’s piece