The Six-Word Memoir Blog

Classroom of the Week: 4th and 1 Football Camp in Mt. Pleasant, TX

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

By Vivian Chum

A Six-Word Memoir workshop is probably not the first thing you would expect to find at a high school football camp in the heart of East Texas. Then again, 4th and 1—a free football, SAT prep, and life-skills summer camp for at-risk student-athletes—is all about challenging expectations.

Earlier this month, 4th and 1’s student-athletes took time out from football and SAT classes to get creative in a Six-Word Memoir workshop led by instructor Jennifer Schuelke.

“Some of my students were initially reluctant to put pen to paper,” says Schuelke. “But once they jumped in, there was this electricity.”

For 4th and 1, Six-Word Memoirs have been an essential part of the camp’s curriculum since its launch in 2010. While classes on subjects such as interview skills, nutrition, and college admissions act as practical supplements to the daily football training and SAT curriculum, the camp has also been home to workshops that promote self-reflection and creative thinking.

“Many of our student-athletes have faced such extraordinary hardships,” says Schuelke. “It’s easy for them to get caught up in wearing those experiences and letting them become a kind of armor. To instead share them through Six-Word Memoirs and learn that others have gone through similar hardships is an important part of the camp.”

This year’s Six-Word Memoirs included stories of transformation such as Justin D.’s “From hate to love in care!!!” which captures Justin’s journey from an abusive household to his adoption by a loving family. Student-athletes also expressed the importance of football in their lives in Six-Word Memoirs such as Kaylon S.’s “Football drives me to do better!” Other memoirs, such as Junior D.’s “Making my mom proud of me,” bore tribute to a loved one who had passed away.

Other six-worders from this year’s excellent crop of 4th and 1 student-athletes include:

“High school quarterback, following my dreams.” Erik R.
“God brought me here from Chicago.” Alex W.
“Football: A dream that starts within!” Elijah A.
“Determination is drilled in my soul.” Braylon S.
“Lost. I’m confused about accepting God.” Khiari B.
“To be successful is the key.” Ty’won W.

Find out more about 4th and 1 at, on Facebook, or on Twitter. Listen to the Recollective’s audio montage of student-athletes, which includes student-athletes reading their Six-Word Memoirs.


Note: With the generous support of our publisher, Harper Perennial, we’ve created two free Six-Word Memoir lesson plans, one for our first book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure, as well as one for our teen book, I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure. Download a PDF of either or both below. All we ask in return is this: let us know how six words works in your class. We love sharing your stories with the rest of the SMITH community.

Teacher’s Guide: First Six-Word Memoir book (click to download)
Teacher’s Guide: Teen Six-Word Memoir book (click to download)

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