Why is Mrs. D so awesome? Because she has all her junior students do this amazing project called the I-Search where they dig deep into a question of profound relevance to them - and then do the research to answer their own question. Mrs. D. reads scads of 25-page papers, encourages the kids to get out and find experts who can help them come to their own conclusions, and doesn't judge them for their feelings and attitudes. She goes WAY above and beyond the call of duty, and I salute her for that.
Topics are as varied as faith journeys to "Why do I want a tattoo?" to career choices.
A couple of the kids wanted to look into writing as a career - whether it was a viable choice given the tremendous pressures to choose a more auspicious career or field of study. You can imagine my answer - I told the girls they might as well follow their passion now, rather than waiting several decades to begin writing after earning a degree in a field they loathe, just because they wanted job security. (Ahem.)
Here's me and aspiring author H., after a lovely chat outdoors in the rain. C., the other teen author I talked to, wrote 37,000 words during NaNo this year. These girls are fantastic.