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From the classroom to the page

This teacher is not just teaching dystopia fiction, she’s writing it! How her students inspire her and her characters every class.
  • Jenny Lambert teaching in front of a classroom.

“I want them to know that this community is what got me started in the first place,” said Ms. Lambert to the Carondelet community and readers on the publication of her second book, The Last Memory Visit. The sequel novel hit shelves both digitally and in real life in time for readers to crack its spine over summer break.

The action-filled, thought-provoking page-turning duology has earned high marks from digital book retailers and reviewers. The first book, The Memory Visit, stars 17-year-old Rain looking for answers about a memory of her brother’s death. The sequel has Rain wrapping unanswered questions, a battle for a better existence, and even higher stakes.

With the start of summer, her second book in print, and possible enrollment in a creative writing MFA program, Ms. Lambert is keeping upcoming projects close to the chest. She did hint at a move outside dystopian fiction despite her love for teaching the class.

She teaches six sections on dystopian literature but gets out of her own way when it comes to writing it. “Sometimes it makes me insecure to know that when people are reading it (The Memory Visit) they might be trying to find different ways to analyze and find meaning. I have to just set it aside,” she said. “I’ve had people ask me ‘is there symbolism?’ I try not to focus on it or make it a conscious effort…If I concentrate too much on the technical, analytical piece it becomes a lot less fun.”

This summer, students taking her class can read her novel to analyze world-building through a first-person perspective. The English teacher is excited to observe her work through the lenses she sets aside while writing. “I can’t wait to see what they come up with,” said Ms. Lambert. “What are they seeing that I don’t see,” she wondered.

This excitement is different than her nerves the first time showing an excerpt, “I kept telling myself if they’re sharing their writing with me, then it’s my job to share my writing with them. It’s all a process.”

If students opt to read the novel for class, those proceeds will go to benefit the Carondelet Faculty/Staff Scholarship according to the summer 2021 reading list. Lambert explained this is the fund she often contributes to when called to do so. “I feel it’s really important,” she said. “I put myself through college, and I was one of those students that had no money. When I was offered scholarships senior year, it helped me immensely. I just want to give that to a kid and have that be their opportunity.”

Ms. Lambert explained how her students inspire her. “Their imaginations and their comments, everything. They’ve always got me thinking,” she said. “They’re putting themselves out there every day in their projects and their writing and their presentations. They’re brave, and I think to myself, if they can be that brave I can definitely be that brave.”

Her students inspire her to be brave, but it’s the Carondelet community overall that encourages her to take risks. “I don’t think I’d be doing these books if I didn’t work here. I really don’t think I would be,” Ms. Lambert admitted.

“Anything I need, the English department is right there cheering me on,” she said. “This place (Carondelet) encourages artistic expression, creativity, and taking risks. We are encouraged to be brave and take risks. That environment keeps me going.”

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