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What People Say about My Classes


In the course of teaching life story writing for more than a decade, I’ve had the privilege of meeting many wonderful people. Family historians make good friends. They have good values. They care about family and traditions and look for ways to preserve them for future generations. My students have become my friends, and so some of them are overly generous in their comments about my classes.  Without a doubt, I have learned more from them than they have from me.


 “Why will a former journalist drive weekly 90 miles to writing classes presented by Dawn Thurston? She is a magician at drawing out the precious memories and treasured moments we all have. Writing, not a chore, becomes a satisfying pleasure.“
—Bill McLain

“It's obvious in her classes Dawn Thurston believes every life has a story and anyone is capable of writing his life story in an interesting and entertaining manner. Overcoming a natural reluctance of students to commit words to paper, Dawn encourages each pupil to share, one incident at a time, their memories of the past. The result is interesting and profitable to the writer and the reader. Her new book will undoubtedly have the same effect on story tellers. Dawn reminds us, as Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, ‘Life is a great bundle of little things.’ The writing of those little things is a joy in Dawn's classes.”—Pat Milligan


 “I have always liked to write but was never good at it.  Thanks to Dawn the stories I now write keep audiences spellbound to the last word. Simply put, Dawn facilitates remembering and writing with practical tools and tips, and provides a safe environment for the students to read their stories and get feedback.”
---Jim McNamara


“Dawn is a superb teacher and role model. Her presentations are engaging and carefully organized. When we’re ready to read a piece of our life story aloud, she nurtures each story, giving positive, insightful suggestions. She doesn’t play favorites, no matter our writing skill level.  Now in my fourth year, I’ve repeated Dawn’s class because I grow as a person and a writer in an atmosphere of respect and encouragement. If I don’t write my life stories, who will?”---Linda Missouri


“Dawn has a special talent for showing her students how to bring forth stories on their families that, when they started the class, they often didn’t even know they knew. I have participated in Dawn’s writing classes for several years and have consistently learned new ways to make my family members come alive.  A family history can be so much more than boring names, dates and places.  Dawn shows even neophyte writers how to make that happen. You’ve researched your family and you want others to care enough to read about it. With Dawn Thurston as a mentor even inexperienced writers can make this happen. “—Dawn Peck


“Dawn Thurston peppers her classes with ideas for creatively writing a life story.  Among other instruction, she gives wisdom on how to research the Internet for social history to accompany personal history, and demonstrates how one can make a memoir or life story come to life by using personal experiences.”---Doris Grace


“I remember when we were young and had ‘Show and Tell’ in school.  But, Dawn teaches ‘Show, Do not Tell.’  You can put on paper the story of your life, but once you have attended Dawn’s class, people won’t just read your story, they will travel along with you.”—Joan Rambo


 “I have taken Dawn’s class for three years. What I like about her style is her emphasis on writing that captures the reader’s attention. She helps people make their past come alive while emphasizing dialog and appealing to the senses. But there is a lot more to it. One, there is a great rapport between the class members. It is like a giant support group. Two, hearing other stories helps you to recall events in your own life that you may have forgotten. Three, it gives one a little push to get going to write your own life story. In the end it helps you achieve a goal much greater than just giving your children money or things.”---Dr. Robert Stumpf


"Being a partially educated Southerner, who considered English only marginally my mother tongue, I approached writing like I would a snake lying in a cornfield. Cautiously!  I was sure it was going to be difficult. However, in Dawn’s classes, I learned how to construct a story that folks would enjoy reading.  With her gentle prodding, I found a voice. Suddenly, folks seemed to actually enjoy reading and hearing my little stories of a boy growing up poor in the agricultural South of the 1940s. She has a unique talent to impart an ability and desire to write in even the most reluctant new writer."
--Willie Wilburn Walker


"Family historians and genealogists in Orange County should not pass up the opportunity to work with Dawn Thurston, teacher of Life Story Writing classes at Santiago Canyon College in Orange. Dawn is an inspirational instructor who motivates the class with her creative teaching methods. I didn’t know how much fun it is to “breathe life into my ancestors” by writing about them until I enrolled in her classes. You don’t have to have a gift for writing to develop priceless stories to leave to future generations; you just simply sign up for one of Dawn’s fun classes. It certainly keeps me coming back for more each semester!"---Marcia Huntley Maloney





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