MFA Instructor Dr. Dawn Reno Langley: A Q&A

After a career spent publishing articles, fiction, nonfiction and poetry pieces, Dr. Dawn Reno Langley now teaches in Southern New Hampshire University’s Master of Fine Arts program , helping budding writers achieve their dreams. We asked her for her thoughts on teaching, the importance of education and more as part of SNHU’s Faculty Spotlight Series. Tell us a little bit about your professional background.

I’ve been writing for my whole life, and I’ve taught others how to write for at least half of that time. My work has ranged from nonfiction books on art and antiques to children’s books and adult novels. I’ve written hundreds of articles, essays, short stories and poetry. Suffice it to say, I write all the time – so I’ve produced a lot!

As a teacher, I’ve taught at the Montessori level (6-8th grades), junior high, high school, community college and university. I’ve also been an academic dean, which showed me the other side of education.

My Master of Fine Arts is from Vermont College, a school I’m quite proud of attending, and my Ph.D. is from the Union Institute and University, which allowed me to combine my passion for social justice with my love of creative writing. What led you to academics, and in particular, SNHU?

I never thought I’d teach. Honestly. I thought my writing career would be enough to keep me busy for the rest of my life, but when I started doing workshops for the University of Vermont’s continuing education program, I realized I loved to teach.

As I said above, I’ve taught at many different levels, but the graduate/doctoral level is one where I feel most challenged and rewarded. Teaching at SNHU allows me to “give back.” This is the type of teaching that gives me almost immediate satisfaction, especially when I’m able to visit a student’s book signing or receive copies of their latest works in the mail. I’m more proud of them than they will ever realize! What drew you to this field of study? What keeps you excited about it?

I’ve always written. I don’t know any other life. What keeps me excited is that every day is new and different. I have so many stories in my head that I’ll never have enough time to write them all. What do you find rewarding in your position as an adjunct instructor?

I’ll give you a specific example. One of my former students lives in my town here in North Carolina, so I see her regularly at Barnes & Noble, where she works. When her first book was published, I was able to pop into her book signing. I know how much it took for this student to find time to write — her job and kids take up a lot of her time. Her dedication to the art will be what she needs to move forward, and I hope to see her at more signings in the near future.

There’s no better reason to be an adjunct than to see the […]

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