English teacher runs writing workshop for veterans

English teacher Jennifer Stastny has been teaching English at Central for 25 years. While she spends her weekdays at school, she continues her teaching through the weekend by leading a writing workshop for veterans. 

In partnership with the Nebraska Writing Project and the Veterans Administration, Humanities Nebraska launched this writing program in 2014, designed to help all veterans and active-duty military personnel to express their feelings in a creative outlet.  

The Omaha chapter currently meets at the Nebraska Wildlife Rehab’s Baldwin Center, where Stastny works as a janitorial employee. 

Stastny has been a part of  Nebraska Writing Project, since 2004. She was contacted by the Nebraska Warrior Writers’ liaison in 2016, starting her position later that August She agreed to the demanding position, with one condition – she would be allowed to choose her co-facilitator.  

Stastny decided to choose her friend, Cindy Cronn, a retired art teacher and trained counselor. 

“I felt like I needed somebody who was trained in counseling because I didn’t quite know what could come up in a writing workshop for military veterans,” Stastny said. 

Participants of the workshop need only be interested in writing in any form – they do not need to have any previous writing experience to benefit from the workshops. 

The workshops consist of six to eight biweekly sessions focused on developing different writing strategies and skills. The range of works includes fiction, poetry and memoir. Writers develop a strong bond as they encourage each other. The workshop culminates in a voluntary public reading. 

In response to being asked one of the ways teaching both at Central and the workshop has impacted her, Stastny responded, “Seeing how writing is still valuable to adults beyond the school system.” 

Nebraska Warrior Writers will be meeting in person in Lincoln and Omaha during Spring 2023, with an option to attend online via Zoom.