Valerie McPherson

My first career lasted thirty years. I helped found Rochester’s public city high school, School Without Walls. There I taught English-related courses and later taught academic writing at SUNY Empire State College. This work made me understand, differently, the personal risks of writing. As we built safety in classes, and therefore increased student willingness to take greater risks, my students began to learn from each other. I learned with them. My perspective was strengthened by my studies at Columbia University, Bard College and with Judith Kitchen. The application of my studies led me to understand the impact and vulnerability of writing differently than I had before. Former students are still in touch with me. In retirement I also proof-read dissertations.

Pirate pic

In my second career I began writing picture books when I discovered that Oscar, my grandson who uses a wheelchair, was not represented in them. He has taught me the need for a book showing the normalcy of a disability, while daring to reflect some of its specific challenges. Oscar, now 7-years-old, and I are “buds.” He is a wonderful artist and an astute critic of my work – often commenting when I have edited a piece.

My next love is travel – maybe from hearing “exotic” names like Djibouti, Suez, Persia, Karachi, Danang from my father, who was a sailor. I began traveling in college when I won a scholarship to study in Europe. That summer I hitchhiked through cities I had dreamed of. Among other places, I have visited Egypt, Peru, Bolivia, the Czech Republic, Tanzania and most recently Cuba. I look forward to more travel.

me with elephant skull in Tanzania.

I am an avid gardener and a fearless knitter who will create anything from a praying mantis to sweaters, hats and scarves. I live in Rochester, NY with my rescue dog, Lucy, my three-legged cat and an occasional mouse that tries to escape the cold winters.

Praying mantis

5 thoughts on “Valerie McPherson”

  1. Valerie, I am most impressed by your experiences! Marcella.
    Was there a picture of the house you wanted everyone to see?

  2. I enjoyed reading about you Valerie. I hear your voice and your passion for words and kids on this website. I can’t wait ’til the day when I see your picture books profiled here too!

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