Retired teacher Constance Neal Casserly ’70 has written a book, The House of Comprehension, published by Compass, an imprint of Brigantine Media. This engaging book includes 40 student/teacher activities and offers English teachers of grades six through nine a program that meshes the teaching of literature with the elements of literature. This, in turn, shows students the importance of structure in any literature, and helps them to create their own durable houses of comprehension.
Constance is a retired teacher/curriculum writer/novelist living outside of Washington, D.C. Her young adult novel, A Fine Line, was published in 1993 by May Davenport, Publishers. She has written numerous educational articles: “The Use of Collages in Developing Self-Concept,” published in English Teacher’s Quarterly; “Banish Those Dialogue Demons,” a lesson plan on dialogue format, published in the National Council of Teachers of English’s 1992 Ideas Plus, Book Ten; a unit plan entitled “The Many Faces of Love,” focusing on Romeo and Juliet and A Fine Line, published in the English Journal’s “Notes” magazine in December 1994 and republished in the book Teaching Literature in High School: The Novel; and a study guide for A Fine Line, published by May Davenport, Publishers. She has also spoken on the subject of teen dating abuse at Optimist clubs and has been a speaker at writing conferences. Recommended by county reading specialists, A Fine Line was submitted for the 1993 IRA Book Award.
An English teacher in the Fairfax County Public Schools system for 25 years (retired June 2011), Constance taught English, journalism, and creative writing at the secondary level. She was awarded exemplary status for each evaluation cycle. She was selected six times for Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and was included multiple times in Marquis Who’s Who of American Women. She taught in an alternative secondary school for behaviorally disadvantaged adolescents, an adolescent psychiatric hospital, and a boys’ correctional institution before moving to public schools.
An Indiana native, Constance attended Keith School, which later became the University School, and received a B.S. in English Education from IUP in 1970. She has taken numerous courses from the University of Virginia and George Mason University.
Constance created a reward program for positive behavior management at the alternative school, and she was written up in the United States Congressional Record for instituting the only positive behavioral activity, a drama program, at the correctional institution. During her years at the intermediate school level, she sponsored the school newspaper, developed a highly effective and popular creative writing program, and was the liaison from her school with the Fairfax County Juvenile Courts. She published a writing magazine, the Writer’s Block, and a poetry book from her writing classes’ pieces, Split Personalities. She also published a student-written booklet, How to Survive Intermediate School. During her 19 years at the high school level, she was the sponsor of their newspaper, the Stinger, as well as the sponsor of the school’s Virginia High School League Trophy Class award-winning literary/art magazine, Scribe. Three times, Constance was the chairperson for the Principal’s Committee on Excellence in Writing, which sponsored a writing conference with local and national authors at the school and brought published writers into the classroom.
Constance lives in Herndon, Va., with her husband and has two adult children.