Teaching and Writing, The Life of Girard
Moeller High School has a published author who teaches English on the third floor named Mr. Geoffrey Girard. He’s published more than a dozen books – from thrillers and ghost stories to historical nonfiction and westerns – with several more on the way. Many never had him as a teacher and would go through four years never knowing the author.
At Moeller, Girard is chair of the English department and teaches six classes. He is also a great teacher who teaches Freshmen Honors, CP1 English, and several electives for seniors, including horror, philosophy, and, of course, creative writing.
This is his fifteenth year at Moeller. I always thought by sitting in his class, he’s a chill teacher, but if you act like the class is chill, you will fail. Girard does incorporate his writing into teaching. “The original story about cloned serial killers came from a class discussion. The 9/11 TRUTHERS books, also. Many of my YA (Young Adult) books come from stuff that comes up in class.” Prior to joining Moeller, Girard was working in advertising and marketing, primarily as a writer. While there was a pretty steep pay cut to start, Girard says, “Getting back to my original teaching plans and joining Moeller was a great decision.”
Mr. Girard had a dream of becoming a writer since the 4th grade, but also thought he might be a zoologist, lawyer, or news reporter. “I was writing Lord of the Rings rip offs by the 5th grade,” he said. As a younger reader, Girard mostly read epic fantasies by authors like JRR Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Mary Stewart. “I read mostly to think and to learn,” he says. “Always have. I’ve never read to ‘feel.’ I think my writing is in that same camp.” He studied English literature in college and has two more degrees in creative writing. Mr. Girard cherishes his teaching life at Moeller because he hates not doing anything. “If I wasn’t a teacher and just a writer, I’d be at my house writing for about an hour and then probably go crazy. I’d need to travel around learning new things and meeting people. I enjoy the energy of the students and faculty at Moeller. I usually go home with new ideas.” Girard often goes to author and book conventions and has met some famous authors. One famous author Girard had lunch with was fantasy writer Terry Brooks, the same man he’d grown up reading. “I admit to getting a little choked up,” he says.
He has published more than a dozen books with major publishers that have done very well. Several have gotten serious looks from Hollywood but no official deals yet. Some books have done better than others. A 9/11 conspiracy -theory story, TRUTHERS, Girard thinks could have done better than it did. “The marketing of your books is the biggest thing in getting your book out there and has almost nothing to do with the author,” Girard says. Mr. Girard is branching out in his writing and is starting to ghostwrite memoirs for famous people including TV personalities and famous musicians. “It’s my job to help them to tell their story. It’s a lot like my original marketing job.”
As a writer, time is balancing act in Mr. Girard’s life. “Everyone always assumes I write a lot in the summer,” he says. “But I seem to get more done during the school year. I write every weekend, sometimes usually twice a day. And, I try to write three or four days a week after school.” Friends and family think he works way too much, but Girard says he’d be bored otherwise. When he is in a time crunch with a deadline looming, he says. “I’ll sometime get up early and get a couple hours of writing in before school. Mostly, it’s my weekends that get used up. But, I don’t play golf and pay someone else to do my lawn care, so whatever.” The normal days are teaching during the week and getting behind on grading papers and then coming home (with some days spent teaching at Mount Saint Joseph University as an adjunct English professor or teaching at a local shelter for teens).
Mr. Girard suggests any future writers out there should read as much as they can to learn the craft. He also says it’s a fun and rewarding job. “I’ve travelled to Japan, been invited back stage at rock concerts, and met all sorts of interesting people thanks to the projects I’ve worked on. I’m always looking to learn new things, and writing provides that now the way reading once did.”