CREATIVE WRITING FACULTY
As the first-generation child of an Indian father and Scottish mother, Ms. Apte spent much of her early life traveling and trying to make sense of her family’s two distinct cultures. She found most of her answers (and most of her happiness) in books and stories. As a teacher, she loves to connect students with texts and to encourage them to follow their curiosities as they develop their own ideas and writing. Ms. Apte studied Journalism and English at Marquette University and holds a Master of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University where she was awarded two writing fellowships and the American Academy of Poets Catherine and Joan Byrne Poetry Prize. After stints in the newspaper business in Wisconsin and Texas, she began her career teaching in HISD and is happy to have landed at HSPVA in 2013 as a faculty member in the Creative Writing Department.
Deborah D.E.E.P Mouton
is an internationally known writer, educator, activist, and Poet Laureate Emeritus of Houston, Texas. Formerly ranked the #2 Best Female Poet in the World, Her work has appeared in various journals around the workd nd on such platforms as NPR, BBC, ABC, Apple News, Blavity, Upworthy, and across the TedX circuit. She serves as a contributing writer to Texas Monthly and Glamour. Her most recent poetry collection, Newsworthy, won honorable mention for the Summerlee Book Prize. A German translation, under the title SayTheirNames, is set to be released in Fall 2021 by Elif Verlag.
Mouton has been in education for the last 18 years, and spent four of those in HISD. She holds a Master's in Education from the University of St Thomas and two Bachelor's degrees from The University of Michigan in English and African-American Studies respectively. She loves to teach and study literature that heightens social awareness and engagement in students.
Judith Switick (Department Chair)
A native Houstonian, graduated from St. Agnes Academy before heading off to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts to study dramatic writing. Since earning her bachelor of fine arts, she has waitressed in London, slept in a hammock in the Lacandon jungle, taught English in Seoul, and dragged her children across the border between Thailand and Cambodia. In the midst of her travels, Ms. Switek earned her master of education degree in curriculum and instruction at the University of Houston. While there, she participated in the New Play Festival and was both thrilled and terrified to see her one-act play on stage. After graduation and armed with her teaching certification, she taught at Southwest Schools for several years before being hired as an English teacher at HSPVA. She is currently building HSPVA's new Creative Writing Program, for which she prepared by studying the craft of writing in Prague as a Fund for Teachers Fellow. In her spare time, Ms. Switek likes to fold laundry and unload the dishwasher. And read, of course. And write.
Brendan Bourque-Sheil is a playwright, dramaturg, and narrative non-fiction writer. His plays have been produced or developed by Stages Repertory Theatre, The Rec Room, Death and Pretzels Theatre Company, and The Landing Theatre Company, where he serves as Playwright-in-Residence and Literary Associate. In his work with The Landing, Brendan oversees script development projects for Houston playwrights, and The Micro-Theatre Project, which commissions writers to create plays set in houses around the city of Houston. For the past five years, he's worked with the Alley Theatre's Department of Education and Community Engagement in developing and implementing theatre programming for schools, veterans, and bilingual communities. He frequently contributes stories to the monthly live show Grown-up Storytime and KPFT’s So What’s Your Story? He's been a finalist for the Reva Shiner Comedy Award and the Houston Press Theatre Award for Best New Play. He's been recommended by the Chicago Reader and profiled by Arts and Culture Texas Magazine. He is a member of the Dramatist's Guild and the inaugural Rec Room Writers Group.
Erika Jo Brown the author of the poetry collection I’m Your Huckleberry (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2014). She teaches writing and literature at the University of Houston. Since 2016, she’s led weekly creating writing workshops at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital through WITS. Brown earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop and her PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Houston, where she won the Inprint Donald Barthelme Prizes in Poetry.
Baylea Jones earned a BA in English from Louisiana State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Western New England University. Her fiction has been named an honorable mention in Glimmer Train and she was selected as a finalist for the New Letters Prize. She has appeared on the Writing Class Radio podcast, served as managing editor of Common Ground Review, and has written for HuffPost, Electric Literature, BuzzFeed, Medium, and more. She lives in Houston with her wife where she teaches at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Houston Community College, and GrubStreet. She is represented by Annie DeWitt at The Shipman Agency and is currently working on a memoir.
Sara C. Rolater is a graduate of Rice University and received her MFA in fiction at the University of Houston, where she served as an assistant editor in fiction for Gulf Coast and where she has taught composition and creative writing for the past nine years. She has also taught for Inprint, Writespace, and Writers in the Schools, written for Citysearch Houston and offcite.org, and has been a fellow at the Writing Immersion Retreat in Bali and at the Byrdcliffe Artist in Residence program in Woodstock, New York. Her work has appeared in Ghost Town and Gulf Coast. This is her seventh year as a consultant at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, where she's taught intro and advanced fiction, creative nonfiction, journalism, and textual collage.