Each of our ELA courses has nearly 100 passages – after students read one, they are tasked with answering ten reading comprehension questions. We typically source these passages from academic or news sources, public domain literature, or our excellent staff of writers. 

“Letters to Grange” is different – Houston teacher and author Robin Owens has allowed us to adapt her contest-winning story into our ELA 7 course, making this piece one of the very first collaborations between Piqosity and community authors!

We’ve adapted “Letters to Grange” as three passages in our ELA 7 Mini Diagnostic Exam, which benchmarks students on their reading comprehension skills and identifies their strengths and areas for improvement prior to practicing their skills with the course.

A native of Shreveport, Louisiana and graduate of University of Texas at Tyler with a degree in Mathematics, Robin has lived in Houston for nearly 12 years. A geometry and calculus teacher at Houston’s Episcopal High School during the day, she practices dance and aerial arts in her free time and writes predominantly during the summer.

We asked Robin about what inspires her stories, how she balances teaching and writing, and the background behind “Letters to Grange”.

Becoming a Writer

A high school math teacher flourishing in fiction writing certainly defies expectations. Akin to pursuing her passion in aerial arts, Robin discovered that creative writing brings her joy and endeavored to improve her craft.

Robin Owens

Teacher and Author Robin Owens

“Writing is an art form that found me later in life (at the mature age of 29),” says Robin. “The environment in which I teach inspired me to start writing fictional short stories because I am surrounded by so many diverse personalities every day, and I needed to channel all that fun material into something.”

Full of displays showcasing students’ impressive achievements, schools can be inspirational environments to anyone in their halls, including educators.

“A defining moment was really in the teacher’s lounge when, sitting alone, I picked up our school’s annual publication of student writing and art, read the first story I flipped to, and burst into tears from the beauty of it… I knew I wanted to weave my way into those future publications, and I started thinking bigger, too. I discovered the blog Reedsy that hosts weekly short story writing contests. I liked the prompts and started submitting stories there.”

The Conception of “Letters to Grange”

Letters to Grange”, in fact, addresses a Reedsy short story contest prompt: “Write about a character who’s known to be a cynic, but secretly romanticizes everything.” The peppy Kristen routinely delivers groceries to grumpy Grange, prying into his life and playfully irritating him every chance she gets – a surprising reveal shows that Grange is a softie at heart.

“Since I don’t have a writing background, per se, (a phrase a writer would say, probably),” Robin reflects, ”it was that much sweeter when my short story ‘Letters to Grange’ got shortlisted on Reedsy. I always feel attached to my stories in a way that makes me feel happy and cozy… So to have dozens of people read my story—I was honored and thrilled to share that happiness with others.”

“I have already tried to learn the ins and outs of Mr. Granger, I can’t help it, I’m a curious person. But he’s a closed book. I’ll admit, on the rare occasion, when I felt like lollygagging in his home after I had bored him with enough questions to cause him to doze on the couch, I have snooped in his office…”

(“Letters to Grange”)

How can two people with such strikingly different personalities connect? This short story shines in the way it contrasts Kristen and Grange, while simultaneously highlighting their peculiar but wholesome relationship dynamic. Despite narrating in Kristen’s spirited and witty point of view, Robin’s unique voice shines through her stylistic choices and diction.

“Grange is the cynic in this story, but the character I had the most fun writing was the narrator, Kristen. She is young and spunky and not afraid of a gruff man like Grange. I tried to sprinkle humor throughout this story, but I don’t always write like that. I do want to stir up some type of emotion in the reader, of course.”

On future plans: Robin is working on a novel! “Unfortunately, I don’t do much writing during the school year (except for an occasional short story) because when I get home I put on my wife/mother hat,” the author writes. “I love my little family, and we stay busy. The summers are my writing Mecca…the last few summers, I have spent many hours each day furiously writing my novel, foregoing other responsibilities and forgetting to drink water. I have also poured myself into writing conferences and webinars like it’s my job (and it is certainly not a paying job—yet…).” 

We are certainly excited for Robin’s novel, and wish her endless motivation and inspiration for her writing journey this summer!

Online ELA and Math Courses with Piqosity

The adaptation of Robin’s wonderful writing as a reading comprehension passage is available in our 7th grade English course, along with dozens of other vibrant, engaging, and informative texts. Throughout all of Piqosity’s ELA courses, there are over 500 passages like these that aim to entertain students while engaging their reading comprehension skills!

Interested in trying out an ELA course for your student? Joining Piqosity is completely FREE (no credit card information required, no sneaky fake “free” trials). Start off with our mini diagnostic test to get a baseline score, and set realistic goals for your student’s success.

Then, figure out a plan for exactly how you’d like to study. You can continue to use many of Piqosity’s unique features and valuable resources as part of our FREE Community package. But, if you’re ready for the next step, you can choose among several competitively-priced test prep or course-based packages. We currently offer:

Online ELA Enrichment Courses

Online Math Enrichment Courses 

Online Test Prep Courses 

When you sign up for Piqosity, you have access to our materials for 365 days. So, no matter how many times your student takes a test (such as the SAT) or how long they struggle in a specific class, you will have the resources of Piqosity on your side. If you believe the benefits of virtual learning are worth our one-time costs, don’t hesitate and help get your child on track today!

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