English students at Charleston County School of the Arts (SOA) recently had the rare opportunity to work alongside an author-producer duo — brought to their classroom straight from Los Angeles, thanks to teacher Alea “Stacy” McKinley.
New York Times best-selling author J. Ryan Stradal and screenwriter and producer George Ducker flew in to the Lowcountry after McKinley successfully raised funds to host them for a week.
Stradal and Ducker led writing workshops and discussed their work, ranging from a novel to screenplay projects. Additional contributing writers furnished vignettes to prompt students to write about their own “cultural landscape.”
Participating students wrote essays, food articles and a screenplay adaptation based on Stradal’s novel entitled "Kitchens of the Great Midwest." Stradal’s work has been used in reality TV shows; his first novel won widespread industry recognition from Amazon, National Public Radio and other sources.
"I wanted the writers to come to our class to teach writing workshops and basically change kids' lives by merely being in their presence and getting feedback on their work and dreams," McKinley said, adding that taking advantage of real life careers enhances the students’ writing experience.
"I feel that every student we worked with got something different and important that will help guide their future reading and writing experiences," she said.