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September 26, 2013

Writing Takes Former Memphis Resident to United Kingdom

Former Memphis resident Janet Trueblood Baldwin Heptig’s writing took her to the United Kingdom this summer to study at the renowned Exeter College.

Writing has taken Janet Trueblood Baldwin Heptig a long way from her roots in Scotland County but never as far as it did this summer.

The English teacher who now calls the St. Louis area home, was named the region's English Speaking Union Fellow. The prestigious honor allowed her to travel to the United Kingdom to study for three weeks.

Janet was the guest of Exeter College, Oxford, the fourth oldest college of the university, which was founded in 1314 with a tower from the late fifteen-century (1492) still anchoring the quadrangle.

"The course began with a formal dinner straight from a scene in Harry Potter," said Janet. "In the old classically decorated, candlelit room, the seated students rose upon the entrance of the gowned faculty and after a few introductory words, the meal began."

The Missourian joined a diverse group of students from Australia, Germany, Poland, Sri Lanka, Nairobi, and the USA. Most of the 50 students in the program were writers with only a few teachers in the program. And there were just a few English Speaking Union fellows.

"Each day, I would walk the well-worn steps tread upon by many before including masters such as J.R.R. Tolkein, Philip Pullman, and Richard Burton," Janet said.

She attended classes entitled "Learning from the Masters" & "Developing Creative Writers", each two hours long, twice a week with assigned homework taught by published professors. Janet also heard daily lectures on topics such as radio drama, publishing children's literature, how to get an agent/ publisher, digital publishing, working with an editor, travel writing, memoirs, crime fiction, poetry, published writers about the writing process, the creative process, what makes a romance novel work, screenwriting for Hollywood, journalism in today's world, bookselling in today's world, and competitions to get published.

"I personally wrote daily from micro fiction to a 2,500 word original short stories to a 2,000 word literary analysis," said Janet. "The experience has changed the way I look at how something is written when I read as well as how I write. I intend to both live these new skills and to share them with students."

It wasn't all work for the teacher. Janet said she was able to have her husband, Joe Heptig, and youngest daughter, Diane Baldwin of Los Angeles, joined her in exploring Oxford, the Oxfordshire countryside (including the village where Downton Abbey is filmed), and London when she wasn't in class or doing homework.

"And all of this started in Mrs. Leeper's kindergarten class at the old elementary school there in Memphis," she said.

Janet Heptig is a 1974 graduate of Scotland County R-I. She went on to earn a bachelor's degree from Truman University in Secondary Education/ Social Studies with a minor in Language Arts. Her master's degree was from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in Secondary Education with an emphasis in Gifted and Talented Education, and Janet also holds a doctorate degree (Ed. D.) from Saint Louis University in Educational Leadership. She is also a National Board Certified Teacher (2000, Early Adolescent Generalist, 2010 renewed).

She currently teaches Gifted Honors English at Pattonville R-3 High School and also serves as an adjunct professor at Fontbonne University.

Janet is the daughter of Bob Trueblood of Arbela and Lela Trueblood of Memphis.

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