[img_assist|nid=7102|title=Kerri Schuster|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=249|height=113]This profile space is normally reserved for local authors with new books hot off the presses. But this issue, we decided to recognize someone of priceless value to the magazine: a Philadelphia Stories member. The member we chose is someone who has supported the magazine not just financially, but has given countless hours of her time volunteering for Philadelphia Stories: Kerri Schuster.
I first met Kerri Schuster after we published her husband’s story, My Life as an Abomination, in Fall 2005. Kerri attended her husband Marc’s readings for Philadelphia Stories, and then began volunteering for our events, helping us stuff envelopes, being a regular supportive audience member for readings by other Philadelphia Stories authors – as well becoming a regular financial contributor to the magazine. As I got to know Kerri, I was very impressed: she is smart, creative, talented, funny, and passionate. So, when we decided to take the plunge and form an executive board Philadelphia Stories, a decision we feel is crucial for the survival of the Philadelphia Stories mission, the first name on our invitation list was Kerri. We knew that she would bring her passion and commitment to the board, and she now serves as Board Secretary. I asked Kerri to share her story.
What do you do for a living, and for your creative work?
I am the Head of the English Department at the Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Bryn Mawr. I have been there for eleven years and teach eleventh grade American literature and twelfth grade creative writing. I love being around my students because they energize me and challenge me to be a better teacher.
In addition, I have been a participant in Alison Hicks’ Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio for about a year. Joining in that community of writers has helped me develop my writing and produce new work. In February, I took part in a teacher-writer retreat called “A Room of Her Own Making,” sponsored by the A Room of Her Own Foundation. The three-day retreat at Pendle Hill allowed women teachers who write to come together and find time to create and communicate in a relaxed and very encouraging atmosphere. I was able to work on my poetry and meet with experienced writers such as Mary Johnson and Meredith Hall.
When did you learn about Philadelphia Stories, and what made you decide to become a member and volunteer?
I first learned about Philadelphia Stories when my husband, Marc Schuster, became involved in the magazine. I loved attending events and found myself meeting great writers from all over the Philadelphia area. Eventually, I was helping out at events and supporting PS in other various ways, including by becoming a member. I was honored when asked to join the board as the secretary and hoped to be able to ensure the longevity of the magazine and all its worthy endeavors. I am also on the committee for a new program, PS Junior, launching next Fall. This seemed a natural extension of my work as a high school teacher, and I was excited to be able to give young people a chance to see their own work published.
How do you think Philadelphia Stories helps the local writing community, as well as your own work?
Until I started working with Philadelphia Stories, I had no idea the Delaware Valley had such a vibrant and vast writing community. Through the magazine, I have been able to learn about local literary events, meet local writers and become a part of a world that just a few years ago I didn’t even know existed. Writing can be a lonely process, but being able to connect with other writers and attend local workshops, especially those sponsored by PS, can remind you that you don’t have to always work alone.
I have found the local literary community to be incredibly encouraging and welcoming. Philadelphia Stories has been instrumental in providing a place for writers to come together, and I have witnessed wonderful examples of camaraderie and support at both Push to Publish and the Rosemont Writers’ Retreat.
Where do you hope to see Philadelphia Stories in the future?
The future of Philadelphia Stories has never looked better. With the introduction of PS Junior, we will be able to bring the experience to a whole new group of writers. There aren’t many venues for young people to share their work, and I believe our latest endeavor will give students a much-needed opportunity to see their work in print. I also see PS Books continuing to publish excellent local authors and poets, and I see Philadelphia Stories continuing to offer superb workshops and retreats by prominent local writers. Of course, none of this would be possible without the help of our readers. That’s why it’s so important that you support the magazine and become a member!
How does your with Philadelphia Stories fit into your personal creative and professional goals?
My personal, creative, and professional goals flow naturally together. That’s why my work with the magazine has come so easily to me. Every day I teach the next generation of young writers, but I also want to set an example for them by working with a local organization that shares my goals and seeks to support the arts in Philadelphia.
For information about how you can become a member, go to www.philadelphiastories.org