Essence grew up in Maryland and DC. She likes all types of music and plays the clarinet. Her favorite artist is Mary J. Blige. She plans to get her license for cosmetology. She keeps diaries and likes to write about her life.
BOOKS BY ESSENCE
Proceeds from book sales go to a Ballou HS scholarship fund and to empower new authors.
"Your Story Is Your Strength." This is the mantra that emerged from a six-month writing project at Ballou High School in Washington, DC, in which eleven dedicated freshmen and six determined seniors told their stories of ambition and struggle in what came to be known as The Ballou Story Project. Together their poignant, powerful voices come together to tell a collective story of How To Grow Up Like Me, a kind of instruction manual for determination, grit, and daily acts of hope and courage.
Literally one hour after I had cataloged and displayed the book How to Grow up Like Me by The Ballou Story Project in our middle school library, it was seized upon by an 8th grade boy who is a reluctant reader, and to my knowledge, had only checked out one other book while in middle school. He made an instant connection with the honest and powerful stories written inside. This student ran down to show the book to his reading teacher and, according to her, he is absolutely captivated and now can’t wait to come to class to read the stories and hear the voices of these courageous authors. This is a great victory. Thank you for sharing this inspiring collection with our students. This is real. This is life-changing.
I was so inspired by the powerful stories published by your students from Ballou! The narrative is so similar to my students here in Memphis and so many kids from urban school districts around the country. There is a need for a writing project like this in Memphis. Our students just don’t have as many opportunities as they should to express how they feel and to be listened to.