Endorsements

"Nothing gets past Tim Storm. Working with editors over the years, sometimes you want to test your crafting abilities and let a crazy sentence fly—abstraction, too much telling, piling on unnecessary details—and you can, for the most part, get away with it. Not with Tim. This guy's got a heck of a head on him. He sniffs out everything. Astute, rigorous, and generous; and it's all in service of improving the piece and strengthening your voice." -Josh Cook, book critic for Minneapolis-Star Tribune 


"Tim Storm is that teacher: the one kids remember decades later, as adults. The one they come back to visit. The one they credit with turning them on to a favorite book or play, or to literature in general, or to writing. Both my kids had Tim for high school English classes. My daughter loved reading and writing to begin with; Tim taught her how to think about literature and writing at a deeper level, how to appreciate craft and follow allusions, and how to write fearlessly.  She called me after her first month of classes at Swarthmore College (where she’s majoring in English!) to complain that none of her professors were as inspiring as Mr. Storm. My son is a different story. He’s the kid who groans at the thought of Shakespeare, dreads poetry, and would rather work calculus problems than write a paper. To date, Tim Storm’s 'Bible as Literature' is the only English course he’s ever actually enjoyed. It takes a gifted teacher to reach both kinds of students. Tim Storm is that teacher." -Anne Strainchamps, interviewer, senior producer and co-founder of the internationally-broadcast "To the Best of Our Knowledge," and host of WPR's "45 North"


"Rarely at Pacific University's MFA Program, or any other, have I encountered a student of Tim’s talent and ability.  Although I’m not ordinarily drawn to stories edging toward the fantastic, Tim’s stories only use their fantastic elements to give a greater insight into human emotion.  These are not fantasy stories, they’re fantastic stories.  Though he started this program at an unusually high level, he consistently dedicated himself to reach even greater levels, but I believe one of his greatest assets may be the kindness he showed his characters and his fellow students.  The generosity of his spirit is enormous." -Pete Fromm, faculty Pacific University MFA in Writing; four-time winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Literary Award; author of memoirs, short story collections, and novels, most recently If Not for This


"With his wit, sense of humor, intellect and joy of sharing his life experiences, Tim Storm creates a rare level of engagement with his students. He holds his charges to the highest standards as he leads them through literature and writing. Students told me repeatedly, 'Mr. Storm makes me think.' Tim is simply one of the most talented teachers I've had the pleasure of working with." -Keesia Hyzer, English Department Chair 2000-2006, Madison West High School


"Mr. Storm didn't just teach me to be a better writer, he helped me become a better person. He's a natural mentor: the rare teacher who cares deeply for his students and a brilliant writer in his own right. His classes have stayed with me longer than my college courses, and I suspect they always will." -Chelli Riddiough, Williams College class of 2015, Madison West High class of 2009, Winner Scholastic Gold Key Portfolio 2009


"Tim Storm lived up to his reputation as one of the 'hardest' teachers at West, but students always felt like they learned a ton and came out of his class much better writers." -Andrew Stendahl, Guidance Counselor Co-Chair, Madison West High School


“As to the quality of the material Tim presented and the examples he provided, what can I say? Absolutely top-notch. Tim did it with a sense of humor and humility (that's not quite the right word. I mean he has the right to claim expertise but didn't present it with any hint of superiority. Quality needs no promotion). The experience was so rewarding, so entertaining, so intellectually honest and stimulating, I hated to see the arrival of artificial boundaries imposed by the syllabus and clock at week’s end.” -Chuck Ladd, Write by the Lake Retreat 2014


"Tim Storm has been an essential member of our Cooperating Teacher team for the Secondary English program.  We are grateful for his service and especially for the ways in which he demonstrated how to be a "practitioner of the craft" to our student teachers--that is, he is a reader, writer, and thinker in the classroom and beyond." -Maisha T. Winn, Ph.D.; Susan J. Cellmer Chair in English Education; Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, Languages & Literacies


"Tim Storm was our son's teacher for British Literature his sophomore year of high school.  From a parent's point of view (and our son's), Tim was exceptional. He was engaging, challenging, and able to cultivate critical thinking and writing skills. Tim's class seemed to us to be a perfect learning experience.  Our son had several great teachers at West High School and Tim Storm was definitely one of them." -Kevin Henkes, author/illustrator, Caldecott recipient and two-time Newbery Medal recipient; and Laura Dronzek, artist whose work has been exhibited nationally, and award-winning children's book illustrator


"Mr. Storm’s teaching, imbued with an uncompromising belief in the value of his subject, prompted me to critically examine the word and the world. I feel so lucky to have had him as an educator." -Caryn McKechnie, Grinnell class of 2018; Madison West High class of 2014


"Having had the privilege to serve as Tim Storm's student teacher for a full year at Madison West High School, I can say with confidence that he is the most gifted educator I have ever had the pleasure of observing and working with. Tim's students exhibit tangible growth in their writing and in their thinking, fostered by his ability to be both challenging and supportive. His feedback on writing is specific and constructive, and his discussions encourage all students to grapple with important and complex concepts." -Tessa Maglio, student teacher Madison West High School, 2014-2015; English teacher, South Milwaukee High School


"With grace, patience, and generosity, Mr. Storm taught me to discuss, appreciate, and love stories." -Isaac Stafstrom, graduate of Deep Springs College 2013; Madison West High class of 2011


"Tim Storm combines thoughtfulness and creativity with his remarkable intuition for writing. The result is a mentor who is knowledgeable and curious, patient and challenging. I’m certain I wouldn’t be at Yale, studying English, without his outstanding inspiration and guidance." -Lauren McNeel, Yale Class of 2018 (English and Molecular Biology), Madison West High Class of 2014


"It can be hard to recall details from the haze of high school, but I clearly remember Tim Storm's Advanced Writing Workshop as a bright spot of creative enterprise. Even to a group of distracted and hormonal teenagers, it was clear that Tim took the business of teaching seriously, and that sparked me to reciprocate with seriousness. Tim selected his texts carefully, pushed me to a higher level of critical reading, and provided that rare sensation that my experiments in writing would be respected." - Evan C. Hill, researcher and writer focusing on the Middle East; as a journalist reporting on Egypt and Libya, he wrote for Foreign Policy, The Economist, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Times, and others.


"Tim provides intelligent insight on the art of novel-writing. I benefited immensely from his analogies and explanations as well as his unique way of finding potential in a draft. I continue to use his input and techniques years after taking his class.  I highly recommend Tim Storm as an instructor." -Brian Busch, Write by the Lake Retreat 2013


Background/Philosophies

Challenge

In one of the first years of my teaching English in a public high school, I had a class called Advanced Writing Workshop, largely reputed—prior to my arrival—to be among the most challenging courses in the school. The class consequently attracted overachievers, kids who enjoyed academic rigor, and stellar writers. It felt entirely natural for me to perpetuate the reputation of the class by setting the bar high. Two months into the semester, though, I was met in the English department by an unfamiliar student requesting a moment to talk with me “about something.” I sat down with her at the vacant lunch table and listened to her sputter out a “concern.” Apparently, a few friends of hers were struggling in my section of the class. In her section, with a different teacher, she was working half as hard as they were and getting a better grade. So maybe I could, “I don’t know, take that into consideration?”


I’m not sure exactly how I reacted: pursed my lips and gave a curt “That’s it?” maybe. She scuttled out of there pretty quickly, and left me feeling terrible. For that class, I spent anywhere from 30-90 minutes on every essay I graded, a commitment that, with a class of 25 students, quickly added up. That student came to see me about a month after my father died. In those days, I often wanted to wallow in my own grief rather than grade another essay. But the work felt meaningful, important. By getting my students to improve their writing, I could see that they were improving their thinking. They were understanding themselves and their world a little better.


I’ve seen my own writing undergo similar improvements under the tutelage of challenging teachers and mentors. Beginning with my most cherished high school English teacher, Sue Edington, and proceeding on through to my MFA mentors David Long, Kellie Wells, and most notably, Pete Fromm, I recognized that behind every brutal critique and honest assessment (“close, but not there yet”), lay a lot of compassion and caring.


Rowing

I suppose my rowing career also taught me some lessons about the value of persistence. Over the course of my ten-year competitive rowing career, constant attention to my form and a dogged training schedule got me to the brink of making the National Team in 2001, the same year my father died. I spent that summer in Princeton, NJ, at the National Team Training Center, living in a dorm, prepping for my upcoming fall classes in between practices, and I was the last man cut from the squad that would head off to the World Championships. More than any other sport, rowing necessitates a tolerance of the painful lactic acid that builds up in the muscles, and rowers train to press on despite the discomfort. It’s exactly that lesson that my father utilized when he got cancer when I was 8 years old. He had a plaque printed with the Calvin Coolidge quote “Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. Press on.” And I’m convinced his mental fortitude through the whole ordeal was partly responsible for his surviving cancer.


The Humanities

This is not to say that I believe teaching is about creating painful experiences for my students to push through. In fact, I’m quite ambivalent about the current work load today’s students face. While I certainly appreciate what challenge and competition can do, I also believe that the purpose of education in general and the Humanities in particular is to make us better people. In my efforts to design curriculum, whether it be for my sophomore English classes or my Media Literacy courses or my Advanced Writing Workshops, I have done my best to teach not just college and career readiness, but life readiness. Storytellers and philosophers, essayists and novelists—their concerns are about how to live, how to find meaning and purpose, how to organize human society. Regardless of what I feel about the Common Core State Standards (I have very complex, mixed feelings), my subject matter feels bigger, more expansive, and more important. I did not get into English Education to prepare a work force. I got into education to help others—and myself—come to better comprehension of the self and the larger species to which we all belong. Which is not to say that I shun “skills.” I’m in Mark Slouka’s camp: “We teach whatever contributes to the development of autonomous human beings; we teach, that is, in order to expand the census of knowledgeable, reasoning, independent-minded individuals both sufficiently familiar with the world outside themselves to lend their judgments compassion and breadth . . . and sufficiently skilled to find productive employment.”


Writing

My father's death in many ways marked the beginning of my careers as both a teacher and a writer. I loved my father; we had a great relationship. There's nothing about his decline or death that I would wish to revisit. But there's also no question that his death made me a better person. It made me more compassionate, more sensitive to the pains people disguise behind their declarations that they’re fine. And that sensitivity has been, for me, at the core of my teaching and writing.


Soon after my dad died, I had a dream in which I was lying on a hospital bed getting open-heart surgery. My chest was split down the middle and propped open for the doctor to do his work, and I was conscious through the whole thing, uncharacteristically unqueasy as I gazed upon my moist, red innards. "Well, here's the problem," the doctor said, pointing to my heart. A pair of lightbulbs were arranged in a small rectangular space, one up and one down, like they are in boxes when you buy them new. "One of the bulbs is burned out," the doc explained. And then he got to work replacing it.


When I woke up, I told my wife about my crazy dream; at work, I told it to a few colleagues. Not once did I consider the rather obvious symbolism of my half-blackened heart until days later, when a colleague of mine responded to my retelling with “That’s sad.”


Sad?


Oh. Right.


Bruno Bettelheim argues in The Uses of Enchantment that “The unrealistic nature of [fairy tales] (which narrow-minded rationalists object to) is an important device because it makes obvious that the . . . tales’ concern is not useful information about the external world but the inner processes taking place in an individual” (25). Fantasy and surreality are, I believe, innate human ways of coping with that which we don’t understand. To resist the make-believe worlds of fairy tale and other fabulist stories is to risk an incomplete understanding of human psychology. For my part, I’ve seen first-hand how my subconscious mind, prodding me onward through a surreal fun-house of my inner turmoil, made “use of enchantment.” And in my reading and writing, I’ve been drawn to the skewed realities of fabulist literature for its unique insights into the inner lives of its protagonists.


If my teaching has been about enabling people to be better equipped to come to know themselves, my writing has a similar concern.


Teaching

I began my teaching career in alternative education at Shabazz City High School in Madison, a school that took a small body of sophomores through seniors (they typically had an enrollment of about 130 students). I student-taught there, and then long-term-subbed for a year. Shabazz accepted students for whom traditional education wasn’t working. Many of those students were “at-risk”; some just were not “well-adjusted” to the relative anonymity and the resulting lack of personal autonomy of very large public schools. Teaching at Shabazz was less about academics and more about creating a safe space, engaging students, challenging them to better themselves and their community. The emphases for English classes were on service learning and on connecting to literature on a more personal rather than academic/intellectual level.


After Shabazz, I worked at Madison West High School, one of the large public schools that some of the Shabazz kids had fled. West’s English department afforded me a unique opportunity to become well-versed in curriculum development and in a wide variety of subjects. The English course offerings, modeled after a college, numbered, at one point, just over 20 subjects. I taught all of the following courses at least once in my 15 years at West: English 9; Advanced Writing Workshop; Language, Usage, and Grammar; Intermediate Writing Workshop; Honors Shakespeare; Science Fiction; Mass Media; Creative Writing Workshop; Bible as Literature; Honors English Literature; and Honors English 10.


In my last several years of teaching, I’ve come to understand English (reading, writing, storytelling, dissecting language, mining meaning in texts) as the intersection of creativity, critical thinking, and compassion. And there’s no doubt in my mind that my vast experience in prepping and polishing such a wide variety of courses over the years has not only made me a better teacher, but has also helped me solidify my philosophies regarding the teaching of reading and writing—of Literacy writ large. Teaching Mass Media got me looking critically at pop culture on a daily basis; teaching Science Fiction taught me to see value in all genres of literature; teaching Honors English Ten allowed me to explore systems of privilege and to have honest discussions with students—mostly from wealthy backgrounds—around issues of race, patriarchy, and cultural hegemony.


There’s also no doubt in my mind that my roots in alternative education have remained with me throughout my career. I’ve always had a tinge of discontent with the traditional school system, which too often pushes an unhealthy competitiveness and foists arbitrary requirements upon students.


Discontent

In 2004, I took a year’s leave so my wife and I could volunteer in Ecuador. Upon returning, I found myself overwhelmed by the workload of full-time teaching. Grading essays was a part-time job in and of itself, and by the end of the 2005-06 school year, I knew I needed to either lower my standards and workload, scale back my hours to part-time, or quit altogether. I opted for part-time.


And for a while, that worked out. Going to part-time allowed me to work on some of my own writing more earnestly. I began my MFA program in 2010, and I remember telling my wife sometime during the 2010-11 school year, “You know, I think I could do this for a long time.” But then Wisconsin was hit by a political firestorm, and public educators were unwittingly at the center of the whole thing. The conversations I witnessed and occasionally took part in on social media discouraged me thoroughly. I had entered the previous year with some anticipation not only of remaining in the schools for a while, but also of being able to effect some progressive change—with a greater focus on creativity and on self-empowerment, especially for students of color. I left that year entirely demoralized and defeated. The following year, the struggles continued as the district administration brought unexpected changes to our curriculum and laid out plans to eradicate our elective system of English courses.


Now

With the births of my children in 2012 and 2014, I’ve begun considering what sort of educational system might best serve its students. I want my kids to love learning, to have a lifelong passion for exploration and creative expression and pursuing interests and reaching out to the community. Above all else, I'm concerned with their mental/emotional health and their kindness to others. The current “school reform” movement—driven by both political parties, I should add—with its emphases on career readiness and competing in a global community and with its corporate business strategy of managing teachers and students, is not concerned with the selfhood and autonomy of its participants. Here’s Mark Slouka again:

The humanities, done right, are the crucible within which our evolving notions of what it means to be fully human are put to the test; they teach us, incrementally, endlessly, not what to do but how to be. Their method is confrontational, their domain unlimited, their “product” not truth but the reasoned search for truth, their “success” something very much like Frost’s momentary stay against confusion.


They are thus, inescapably, political. Why? Because they complicate our vision, pull our most cherished notions out by the roots, flay our pieties. Because they grow uncertainty. Because they expand the reach of our understanding (and therefore our compassion), even as they force us to draw and redraw the borders of tolerance. Because out of all this work of self-building might emerge an individual capable of humility in the face of complexity; an individual formed through questioning and therefore unlikely to cede that right; an individual resistant to coercion, to manipulation and demagoguery in all their forms. The humanities, in short, are a superb delivery mechanism for what we might call democratic values. There is no better that I am aware of.

There’s too much innovation in education not being tried. There’s too much value in reading and writing to relegate it to prescribed curriculum. I've left public school with some major misgivings and regrets. But I have not abandoned what I love.

My Résumé

What follows is the typical résumé stuff: experience, education, certificates/awards, and publications.

Experience

  • English Teacher
  • Madison West HS
  • 2000-2015

  • Instructor/Speaker
  • Write by the Lake Writing Retreat
  • UW Dept. of Continuing Studies
  • 2012-2016

  • Instructor/Keynote Speaker
  • Weekend with Your Novel
  • UW Dept. of Continuing Studies
  • 2013, 2015

  • Workshop Leader
  • Writer’s Institute
  • UW Dept. of Continuing Studies
  • 2012

  • Cooperating Teacher for undergrad student-teachers
  • UW Madison
  • 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

  • Cooperating Teacher for doctoral student
  • UW Madison C&I Dept.
  • Research on Afro- and Chicano-Futurism
  • 2012

  • English Teacher
  • Shabazz City HS
  • 1999-2000

  • Rowing Coach
  • Mendota Rowing Club
  • 1996-1998

Education

  • Cornell University
  • 1992 - 1993

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • 1993 - 1996
  • BS in Education/English

  • Pacific University
  • 2010 - 2012
  • MFA in Writing

Certificates/Awards

  • Teaching License
  • Wisconsin DPI 1996-present
  • 6-12, secondary English

  • Scholastic Gold Key Portfolio Teacher 2009
  • My student won a Scholastic Gold Key Portfolio Award; as her teacher, I was awarded a cash prize as well.

  • Outstanding English Educator
  • Wisconsin English Journal 2014
  • Featured in Wisconsin English Journal's spring 2014 issue. Wisconsin English Journal is the publication of the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English (WCTE, affiliated with the National CTE).

  • Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award
  • Salem College 2013
  • International Literary Competition. In 2013, Timothy Schaffert judged the contest.

  • Finalist - Black Warrior Review Contest
  • University of Alabama 2014
  • Published in the spring 2014 issue of Black Warrior Review, my short story "The Grindylow and the Former Child Actor" was a finalist for the 9th annual BWR contest.

  • Finalist - Short Story America Prize
  • My short story "Creatures of the Deep" was a finalist for the 2013 SSA contest and will be published in the anthology Short Story America Vol. 4.

Publications

  • "Creatures of the Deep"
  • Short Story America, Vol. 4, Fall 2015

  • "The Grindylow and the Former Child Actor"
  • Black Warrior Review
  • Short story, pub. spring 2014.

  • "Ghost in the Valley"
  • Fiction Attic
  • Flash piece in Flash in the Attic Flash Fiction Anthology, Volume 2.

  • "Raincloud"
  • Midwest Prairie Review
  • Flash piece in Volume 1, 2013.

  • "Stone Boy"
  • Boston Literary Magazine
  • Flash piece in Fall 2009 edition.

  • "First Kill"
  • Driftless Review
  • Flash piece in Issue 5.0, Winter/Spring 2016.

  • "Trespasses"
  • Copper Nickel
  • Short Story, forthcoming, Spring 2017

Misc. Projects

I’ve experimented a little with some digital forms of writing—adding elements of interactivity or fancifying tales with some javascript. I’ve also collaborated with my photographer sister several times to create flash pieces to accompany her whimsical photos.In 2009, I made a low-budget YouTube documentary on Race and Humor.

Hire Me

I'm available for consultation or to lead any of the following: tutoring, critiquing, teaching, speaking, designing curriculum. But I'm open to all sorts of projects. Email with questions/requests.

Editing/Critiquing

I critique essays, short stories, and novels. I provide very thorough feedback, targeting line-level edits and/or how the piece is working as a whole. My charges: $30 an hour for proofreading (focusing on grammar, spelling, and punctuation only; no comments on the ideas, the story, the development, the rhythm); $35 an hour for line editing (polishing sentences, condensing, commenting on word choices, improving rhythm, pointing out inconsistencies in voice, but again, no whole-level feedback); $40 an hour for developmental feedback (holistic; looking at the story's pacing, characters, plot; or an essay's movement and expository thread); $45 an hour for comprehensive critiques (line level plus developmental).


Textbooks: in editing a textbook manuscript, I try to make the writing as clear and intelligible as possible. I offer my own rewrites of phrases, sentences, and passages, and I pose questions when the content is clearly out of my expertise--all for the purpose of making your revision as easy and clear as possible. I charge $55/hour and typically get through about 5 pages in an hour.


Novels: If you've finished a novel and need a reader to give you a holistic assessment of what's working and what isn't, then I can help you out. I charge $40/hour for a "beta read." I point out plot holes, character inconsistencies, and places where you might be losing reader (agent/publisher) engagement. My rate typically ends up somewhere around $1.50 a page.

College Essay Help

I'll be offering a week-long course in college application essay writing this summer (2016). For more information, click here. To see the dates and times and to enroll, click here.


Option #1: Comprehensive critique (includes line edits and holistic feedback). I work at $40 per hour, and a college application essay usually takes me between 30 and 60 minutes.


Option #2: Exchanges. I give holistic feedback on an essay; you incorporate that feedback into a rewrite, and you send me another draft. We do this until you’re satisfied that you have a quality essay. I work at $30/hour and I shoot for 20-30 minutes per editing session.


Option #3: Face-to-face. You can send essays ahead of time. We engage in a dialogue about your writing. I charge $70/hour for such meetings.


I promise to provide adequate explanation/instruction for any writing craft issue I address in my assessments.You can pre-pay if you’d like to lock in an amount, in which case, I’ll prioritize the overall assessment.

Tutoring

English—any level, 9th grade through college (includes lit analysis, essay writing, creative writing, grammar and mechanics, reading comprehension, ESL/EFL)—most of my work has been with instruction targeting students aged 16-20. My rates are somewhat negotiable depending on your financial status, but my default charge is $70/hr.

Teaching

Available for small group or large group instruction—one time or repeated meetings. I can run literature discussions, give writing instruction, or provide grammar tips. I can work with summer learning groups, homeschoolers, weekend courses—teen through adult. Some online fiction courses are in the works.

Speaking

I've given several talks at writing conferences and workshops. Some past titles include: "The Six Senses of Reader Engagement," "How to be Strange: The Risks and Rewards of Weirdness in your Writing," and "Can I Really Call Myself a Writer: A Commencement Speech." I'm available for craft talks delivered to groups of any size.

TD