Yulissa Nuñez: Writing and Acting for Change

Nov 24th, 2016 | By | Category: BLTN Teachers, Fall 2016

Editor’s note: Each summer, teachers from Andover Bread Loaf visit the Vermont campus to learn about work at Bread Loaf, and to get acquainted with students and faculty. Here is an excerpt from an introduction by Yulissa Nunez, first year Bread Loaf student, English teacher at Lawrence (MA)  High School, and an alumna of Andover Bread Loaf. 


Yulissa Nuñez welcomes visiting teachers from Andover Bread Loaf and gives them an account of BLSE through the eyes of a Lawrence teacher, learner, and change agent.

I’m part of Dixie Goswami’s class, Writing and Acting for Change. That’s been really transformative.  We’re looking at people who have written across centuries in our world—people who have really influenced change. That for me is very important because the way that my school system is going right now, we need a lot of teachers to step up and to be writers, leaders, and advocates for our students.

As Dixie also says, we also need student allies to guide those youth to create their voices.  So, I’m also learning how to work with the two: how to work with the activists and how to have younger activists.

What am I thinking of doing?  I have three projects in the works.


Ms. Nuñez was recently recognized by Lawrence, Massachusetts Mayor Dan Rivera with the Hispanic Heritage Award for her “outstanding efforts to enrich and increase educational opportunities for young adults.”

One of them is to do a spoken word group in my high school.  I didn’t know poetry, didn’t like poetry, and I was a little bit scared of it.  If you physically showed me poetry I would have run away, but then I did ABL.  I know a lot of you have seen the kids at ABL perform.  I’m pretty sure that you guys have sensed it too, that sense of confidence they have in the room.  That happened to me too and I’m 22 years old standing next to an 11‑year old who is proud and confident, writing.  Just seeing how transformative it is for them, I took a step outside of my comfort zone and started writing and speaking and I became a spoken word artist and I really started advocating through my pieces.  So, I want to create a group in my school that focuses on that.

The second project that I have is for the seniors in my high school even though I work with freshmen and now will be working with sophomores.  There’s this really, really horrible gap that happens to the seniors in inner city schools that go off to college.  A lot of them just can’t hack it, and it’s not because they’re not smart enough.  It’s really because they don’t know their resources and they’re not equipped to handle those challenges.

Kendra (Bauer) has something called Future Fridays where students talk about things like how to write a check, how to look at loans, how to look at due dates for loans—practical stuff in your life. So, we started doing this thing where we had this portfolio already in the works without actually knowing it.


One last project and then I’m done.  I take Fictions of Climate Change. No, climate change is not fictional; it is actually happening, but the course deals with literature that puts characters in place of their environment.  There’s a whole bunch of questions that really haven’t been asked in literature— not like that.

You have questions with characters coming to terms with themselves with their humanity in relation to their environment.  I need to learn how to grow my own food, how to look at my food because I want to live more sustainably as a human being.  My thinking stemmed from Writing and Acting for Change, too, because we focused on “food literacy” and “food justice.”  It’s personal growth and I can collaborate with people on it and take it back home with me immediately.

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