Charlene Ellis holds a B.A. in American Studies, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and an M.A.T. in Social Studies. She began teaching in the B.A. program 17 years ago; prior to that she served as a writer in the North Carolina Visiting Artist Program and for several years taught literature and writing in state and community colleges and private and public high schools. She created and taught in a tutorial program on the Cherry Creek Reservation in North Dakota and was awarded by her undergraduate college a scholarship to study and teach at Ahmednagar College in India. With fellow graduates from Antioch-New England, she helped found a community, farm-based school.
Charlene's love of writing grew out of her love of reading. As a child in rural Illinois, reading became her way to explore the world, try on other identities, and find comfort. She sees reading literature as a way to awaken our capacity for delight and wonder, and for empathy, without which neither a civil society nor a just world is possible. From her own experience as a writer, she knows it takes tremendous courage to move through fear, doubt, and even despair as we transform silence into language and give words to the nuances of thought original to ourselves. The heart of her work as a teacher lies in helping students to find this courage.
Charlene has won the PEN Syndicated Fiction Project award for one of her short stories. She was commissioned to write the script for a dance/drama that toured the United States and Canada. She has received residency grants from the Ragdale Foundation, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, and the Vermont Studio as well as a grant-in-aid for artistic achievement from the Vermont Arts Council. She participates in classes at the Vermont Insight Meditation Center and is a student of tai chi chuan and the piano.