Monica's teaching philosophy is simple: The world is on fire and I will turn you into a fire extinguisher.
Trained as a slam poet, Monica uses similar strategies when teaching: excessive hubris, high heels, and bombastic energy. Her students know that besides learning something, they will probably have a great time in her classroom. They laugh, debate, scream—literally—but mostly, they share with one another, gleaning knowledge and energy together to solve the world’s problems—or, at least, how to read and critique poetry. Her pedagogy is rooted in Critical Race Theory, inclusive teaching, and project-based learning, with trauma-informed strategies. Monica tries to prepare students for difficult conversations, whether discussing queer representation in twentieth century poetry or racial diversity in graduate school faculty. They know from the jump that the history of racism in our justice system and educational landscape is real, and it’s our responsibility to actively dismantle its impact on our future. She does this by diversifying and decolonizing her course materials, presenting challenging course themes, and offering students mental health days.
Photo credit: Andrea Renee Johnson
Monica taught with Writers in the Schools (WITS) in different forms in three states for five years. In Georgia, from 2012-2014, she taught and facilitated the Early College Writers in the Schools Program, a WITS program that matched undergraduates with seventh graders. In Texas from 2014-2017, she taught creative writing and slam poetry with the summer Creative Writing Camp in Houston, co-sponsored by WITS Houston and Rice University's School Literacy and Culture department. In addition to that camp, Monica taught with the HYPE Freedom School in July 2016, a summer program for marginalized students to increase literacy and excitement about reading and culture. In Colorado from 2016-2017, Monica taught with the WITS-affiliated nonprofit, Colorado Humanities and the Center for the Book. With this program, she taught creative writing to high school seniors, focusing on Pulitzer Prize-winning work about the American West.
All these teaching artist gigs contribute to Monica's work as a writer, performer, and teacher. She utilizes the co-teaching model from Creative Writing Camp in Houston in her poetry classes at Susquehanna University; she implements the concept of "mentor texts" from Colorado Humanities in her Senior Seminar courses; and she encourages master class workshops, inspired by her Early College work, with the Slam Club she advises and the Choreopoem course she exclusively teaches. Teaching has proved to be the second-most rewarding part of Monica's art (the first, of course, actual writing).
Photo credit: Dave Housley
Are you or someone you know a high school student interested in creative writing? Spend a week with Monica and other fabulous creative writing faculty at Susquehanna University with the Summer Writers Workshop (SWW), run every summer in July for the last few decades. In this camp, young writers from all over the country have the opportunity to write, revise, and perform their work, eventually publishing at least one piece in the SWW workshop anthology and submitting to the longest running literary journal for high school writers in the country, The Apprentice Writer. Join us this summer!
On March 23, 2020, Susquehanna University pivoted to remote instruction in the face of a rising global pandemic. At that time, no one could foresee Covid-19’s long-lasting and widespread effects. While SU has successfully been back on campus since fall of 2020, it is worth recognizing how far students, faculty, and staff have come. Monica Prince offers a spoken-word reflection this anniversary video, "Better," composed by the university with photographic contributions from SU students.