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photo of many old books

Courtney Edwards

Education: Appalachian State University, English (BA) 1999

  • Western Carolina University, English (MA) 2007
  • Concentration: Rhetoric and Composition
  • Thesis: Reading as Knowing: Identity Construction in the Reading Transaction

My addiction to books has kept me from traveling lightly in this world. I not only love to read the books I get in my hands, I like to keep them too. I have had eleven addresses in fourteen years, and books are heavy. But I like to live in different places, even if it is just a different house down the road, and the books on my shelves make me feel like I am home.

I was born and raised in the mountains of Western North Carolina (yes, those Appalachian hills were once mighty peaks, and it's App-a-latch-an, by the way). I studied English and Anthropology at Appalachian State, and then I got confused. When I get confused I usually do crazy things, so I took kids on backpacking trips for a few seasons, pocketed the money, and moved across the country to a town I had never even visited. In Bellingham, Washington I intended to go to graduate school for Environmental Education, but instead I worked a random job, moved out of town into a tiny cabin in the woods, spent hours in libraries, forests, and on rocky beaches, and I even took a fairly impromptu trip to study Spanish in Guatemala.

Life eventually brought me back home to my family in NC where I decided it was time to go back to school. English was my first academic love--my love of reading and writing ran deep-but I was unsure of my how to make my passion for books (and what was in them) into a career. I was offered a teaching assistantship in the English department at Western Carolina, and it was in the classroom, as a teacher and a composition student, that I figured out what to do. Teaching and studying writing while learning how students engage with texts (of their own and others), showed me how my love of books can be channeled into a worthwhile profession.

I like my life on the chaotic side. Immediately after finishing my degree in NC, I packed up once again to move to Denver. Thankfully, at Red Rocks I can continue to find out what gets students engaged and excited about learning because we learn by listening to each other's stories. I like watching students surprise themselves by enjoying a writing activity, or taking pleasure in an essay they had at first glance thought boring. I love hearing students say, "Wow. I didn't know I could like writing. But I loved that project!" To me, all writers are not simply born. Many writers are filled with the need to write, and all writers must work to find their voice and that confidence that actually makes them acknowledge that they are writers. I am still working on all that myself, and I enjoy having the opportunity to share my stories and struggles with students so we can all tap into the power reading, writing, and learning gives to all of us.