Writing Center: Interview With Mr. Hepler


Asma Irfanullah, School News Writer

Joshua Hepler, known as Mr. Hepler around Glenbard South, is part of the school’s Writing Center: an area in the LRC with supportive staff who help students work on their writing assignments. Although Mr. Hepler has only been here for about three years, he already fits well into the South community. The Independent asked Hepler a few questions to get to know him better.


Question: For those who don’t know, would you like to give a quick rundown of what you do here?


    Mr. Hepler: “The Writing Center offers help on any writing assignment. That means worksheets, short answer prompts, CEAs, essays, presentations, speeches, projects – basically anything. We can help you get started or help with revisions, or anything in between. We also offer a lot of assistance with things like college essays (especially the Common App) and internship/work applications. Ms. Lange (the College/Career Coordinator) is right next door, so we work together frequently. The Writing Center is in the back of the LRC and it’s open during lunch periods (4th – 7th).” You can schedule an appointment by using the QR Code on one of the Writing Center posters or just email [email protected].


Question: How did you come across this job?


    Mr. Hepler: “I really enjoyed my previous job (at a library), but after a while, I wanted a change of pace. When I started looking around for something new, I wanted to find a job that involved either writing or working with students. My wife sent me a listing for this job, and the description was basically a combination of both, so I applied.”


Question: What is your favorite part of working here?


    Mr. Hepler: “I really like the variety – especially the variety of people I get to work with and the variety of assignments that happen throughout the year. Not many people know this, but the teachers also have an underground rollerblade laser tag league that happens in the gym when no one else is here, so that’s fun too.”


Question: Do you enjoy working with the kids on their essays?


    Mr. Hepler: “Absolutely. I’m pretty extroverted, so working with students and getting to know them (and their work) is a big positive for me. Of course, if you’re not as extroverted as me and would rather not meet in person, that’s completely fine – I also do a lot of work with students just through email and Google Docs. I love hearing (or reading about) students’ takes on books, historical events, characters, current issues – basically all of the above.”


Question: What do you find most fulfilling about helping students with their writing?


    Mr. Hepler: “For me, writing is all about communication. I know writing assignments can be a ton of work, but at the end of the day, most of the assignments are about improving your ability to communicate your thoughts and feelings to the world. I feel like improving that ability gives students more choices and more of a voice, so watching students improve their writing and critical thinking over time is extremely fulfilling.”


Question: What is your favorite type of essay/writing piece to help students with and why?


    Mr. Hepler: “I really enjoy working with students on tough assignments because it’s fun to watch them find their confidence when they realize they’re up to the challenge. I also really enjoy helping with college essays because everyone has a different story and different strengths – helping students tell those stories and emphasize their unique strengths is a great process. But if I’m being honest and I have to pick just one category, it’s probably helping with creative writing projects. I just love creative writing, and that’s a big part of what I do outside this job, so when a student shows me a poem or a random idea for an article they want to write, I couldn’t be happier. Students’ talent and ideas never cease to amaze me. That’s also a big reason I like going to Creative Writing Club (Thursdays after school with Mr. Aye).”


Question: How long have you been working in the Writing Center?


    Mr. Hepler: “This is my third year! I got (almost) an entire year in before the pandemic hit, so that experience really helped me when we had to go to remote learning.”


Question: For how long have you been interested in writing?


    Mr. Hepler: “I started writing on my own in college, but my first experience being proud of something I’d written was in Mrs. Kloss’s 7th grade Language Arts class. I wrote a story about a pickle who wanted revenge for being eaten, and she was amazingly, bizarrely supportive.”


Question: What genre of literature do you enjoy the most?


    Mr. Hepler: “I’m almost always reading fiction. Now that I say that, I feel kind of bad – I really should read more nonfiction. I’ll read pretty much anything, but lately I’ve been on a big mystery streak. I love classic detective stories like And Then There Were None or The Westing Game and I have a major weakness for kid’s books. The last few books I’ve read are The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles, The Dry by Jane Harper, and The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.”


Question: Do you do anything writing-related outside of Glenbard South?


    Mr. Hepler: “Most definitely. I also teach at a local theater, so I love writing plays and screenplays, and sometimes I teach playwriting and sketch writing classes. I’ve also written two full-length books (and a few unfinished ones). One of the finished books is a kid’s mystery and the other one is humorous fantasy (think Harry Potter age range). I’m currently trying to find a literary agent, so wish me luck!”


    Overall, Mr. Hepler is a great addition to this school. Students can feel free to schedule an appointment with Hepler for any kind of writing endeavor they may need assistance with.