JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

August 31, 2023

This week, I had the opportunity to meet my children’s teachers for the 2023-2024 school year. I’m grateful my son has the same teacher for first grade my daughter had. She was a beacon for my daughter in many ways, and I’m grateful my son will get to experience her extraordinary abilities. He’s in for a wonderful year. My daughter – being the elder – always gets a new teacher and forges a new adventure. This year, she was ecstatic when she found out who her teacher was and what classmates would be with her. And I’m grateful that both of my children are healthy, happy, and excited to begin a new school year.

While visiting with my daughter’s new teacher, she told me that they will be getting into writing persuasively this year. I was elated. I let her know was a writer, and my co-worker, Mark, and I would love to do a writing workshop if she was interested. She was. And I can’t wait to share with over a dozen third graders the beauty of writing.


As Gabor Maté wrote in In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, “I needed to write, to express myself through written language not only so that others might hear me but so that I could hear myself.”

For me, writing opened a new way of experiencing the world. Not only did I learn how to tell my story and share my thoughts with others, but I also learned to embrace my story and organize my thoughts coherently. It’s easy to live inside the echo chamber of your mind. It’s more challenging to flesh out the ideas and begin to understand who I am and why.

As my mentor and co-worker says, “I write to restore self-faith. Not my self-faith. The self-faith of others who’ve lost it. I found my voice and my agency through writing. I want others to find theirs, too.”

At Eight Years Old

This year, Mark and I will be helping many eight-year-olds home in on their self-faith. Hopefully by this point in their lives, they haven’t lost their self-faith, but that doesn’t mean they’ve discovered it yet. While I’m excited about many things the new school year will bring, this one may take the cake at the current moment. After all, learning to write at eight years old may help these small humans change the world … or at least make it a much better place.