2024 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree

Herstory Writers Network

Herstory Writers Network

Erika Duncan
Founder, Executive Artistic Director

In 1996, essayist and novelist Erika Duncan started out on what would become an almost 30-year journey that would eventually inspire thousands to find the answers that empowered them to open critical new chapters in their lives. Herstory Writers Network transforms community centers, universities, public schools, youth courts, labor halls and healthcare facilities into sacred spaces, where formerly silent voices bear witness to one another as they develop their personal stories into potentially life-altering opportunities.

Guided by its mission of “breaking silence to change hearts, minds and policies,” Herstory, which began as a single workshop in the Town of Southampton, has grown into a national network, creating opportunities for students, families, and communities to come together and share their stories. Some come for only a few weeks in order to share one particular story that they need to be tell, while others come year after year, working on book-length projects. There are students who attend for only a single semester, while others are still with Herstory ten years later or more, in the role of workshop facilitators and youth mentors, making Herstory a way of life.

Seven years ago, Herstory became a champion of Nassau BOCES, offering its unique brand of support to the agency’s Twilight Alternative High School Programs. The network developed a series of workshops for evening students in an increasing number of districts, along with several nine-week professional development series for Twilight teachers, providing them with enrichment opportunities to develop processes and strategies that inevitably resulted in academic mastery, bridge building, and meaningful social-emotional learning experiences for their students.

Through intensive summer programming offering credit recovery, the team at Herstory devised a plan to build a much-needed pathway to academic intervention, civic engagement, and social emotional learning that has proven incredibly vital for Nassau BOCES students, particularly the English as a New Language population.