The Mighty Writers Podcast
Maureen Boland, a former English teacher, is using her ability to connect with students and community members to provide a platform for their stories.
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Mighty Writers (MW), an educational nonprofit with multiple locations in Greater Philadelphia and New Jersey, announced the launch of its first-ever podcast—featuring conversations with storytellers who find beauty in an often brutal world.
Maureen Boland, a National Board-certified English teacher and recipient of a Lindback Award for Distinguished Teachers, shared the vision of The Mighty Writers Podcast with AL DÍA and what she hopes listeners can take away— “the idea of opening up listeners to people they might not come in contact with in everyday life so that we can all feel a little less polarized, a little less separated,” she said.
“We'd been thinking about a Mighty Writers podcast for some time,” says Tim Whitaker, Mighty Writers' executive director, and the podcast's executive producer. “But it wasn't until Maureen joined our staff that I was able to see a clear vision of the power it could hold. Maureen is a natural storyteller, and the stories she chooses to tell will often focus on the courage displayed by people whose voices might not usually be amplified.”
Boland, a former Philadelphia public school teacher for 23 years, departed from her position last November because “I had more to give and in order to do that, I needed a little more space to do that,” assuring she loves teaching writing and having “freedom around how I do that.”
Boland spent six of her 23 years as a teacher in bilingual schools in New York and Philadelphia. She was also an educator for the Bilingual Undergraduate Studies for Collegiate Advancement (BUSCA), a four-semester Associate of Arts degree program at La Salle University that offers Hispanic students a unique opportunity to transform their lives and their futures through improving their academic language skills, deepening their intellectual curiosity—for three years.
“At some point, I developed a knack for recognizing people who are aching to tell their stories,” said Boland. “And an honest story, especially one that looks unflinchingly at a sometimes brutal world, has the power to lessen the isolation, despair, and polarization so many of us feel.”
The first episode, “Love at First Sight,” was aired March 13th—a compelling story of thirty-year-old Akeiba Emerson, who shares her journey from foster care to adoption—her experience with abuse and neglect and moving through 22 different foster care placements before she was old enough to read.
“I am deeply curious about other people's lives, and I tend to see the best in other people,” admits Boland, who felt welcomed by the Peruvian people when she lived in the Latin American country, adding that “learning Spanish as a young child shaped me into the person I am—and that is a person who feels very at ease talking to people who may come from a different background than mine. And being able to do that— feel at home with different groups of people—is a beautiful way to move in the world.”
Boland hopes the podcast allows her to give back, explaining she has “always been indebted to that childhood experience. I was a stranger who was welcomed, and I want people, in general, to feel less like strangers.”
The Mighty Writers Podcast will have ten biweekly episodes produced by Philadelphia-based podcast company Rowhome Productions.
After a short hiatus during the summer, Boland says, The Mighty Writers Podcast will produce more episodes.
The second episode, “Letting Go with Linda Geraghty,” unravels a family's generational battle with addiction. Linda Geraghty was featured in the stirring and critically acclaimed documentary, “Our American Family,” which documents the family experience with Linda’s adult daughter, Nicole, and her journey to recovery from heroin addiction.
The Mighty Writers Podcast will also share the story of a MW Volunteer, her relationship with a man from Venezuela, and their recent visit to the ICE office on the same day of a protest.
The episode will have subtitle translation available. Her story will be available in the second season of the podcast.
Listeners can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts and other major podcast platforms or listen here.