PROFILE: Future Teacher Is A Man Of Mystery
Graduating this year with a master’s degree in middle school education, Jeffrey Marks, an award-winning mystery novelist and magazine writer, hopes to enliven his students so the mysteries of reading are eagerly pursued.
Date: 1/24/2005 8:00:00 AM
By: Jacob Dirr
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Other Contact: Dawn Fuller
Other Contact Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Lisa Ventre
Jeffrey Marks, a University of Cincinnati graduate student in the the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services says writing is his passion. To date, Marks has published 10 books ranging from mystery novels sleuthed by his historical protagonist Ulysses S. Grant, to critically acclaimed biographies of mid-1900’s mystery writers and even a how-to guide on marketing genre-fiction. In addition, Marks says he has “written more short stories than I can count and literally hundreds of articles on various subjects.
“I’ve always liked writing. For as long as I can remember, it’s just been a part of who I am,” says Marks. In fact, Marks says he began creating stories before he knew how to write them; instead he started telling them through pictures he drew. It was not until he read the works of Agatha Christie in his teens, however, that he found his muse.
“I really got interested in reading mysteries and mystery-related things from reading her books,” says Marks. “Because once I started reading all of hers I decided I wanted to start reading other authors and it kind of led from one thing to another.”
Earlier this year, the Ohioana Library Association awarded Marks for his continuing work and outstanding accomplishments in mystery fiction. A longtime Ohio resident, Marks is originally from Georgetown (just like U.S. Grant) and now lives in Monfort Heights, just west of Cincinnati.
Previously, Marks won the Barnes and Noble Prize for a short story in 1996 and has been nominated for a number of other awards for his writing.
It is this passion for writing and the success that Marks, 44, has enjoyed and which he hopes to instill in his future middle school students.
Already holding a bachelor’s degree in computer system analysis, Marks says he became intrigued by education when he started giving lectures at schools.
“Actually, I left computers to take a job at a magazine, but the magazine went under. I had been working at my writing and at the same time I was doing a lecture series and stuff like that and I got into doing a number of talks at schools,” says Marks. “I enjoyed that so much, that’s what got me into teaching.”
Planning to teach language arts and math to students in grades 4-9, Marks says the pupils he has encountered as a student teacher at Colerain Elementary School are impressed and enthused by his background.
Linda Amspaugh, a CECH professor who teaches literacy in the middle schools, says she cannot see how his students could not be impressed by his talent. “I’m impressed by it. He is such a good model for middle school students,” she says.
The two have enjoyed the mutual privilege of becoming friends while Marks studies at UC, which Marks feels he has enjoyed. While Marks has inspired friendships with several professors, Amspaugh is the one he knows the best, he says
“She’s the one that I have the best relationship with.” Marks added. “She’s my advisor, so we have spent more time together then I have with the rest of the faculty.”
Marks has been an inspiration, says Amspaugh, because of the workload which he has taken on. In addition to finding time to write and be a student teacher, Marks also has a job at UC, attends book-signings in and out of town and manages to save some energy for his Scottish Terrier, Ellery.
“What makes Jeff unique is that it seems to me that it would take incredible discipline for the time to be able to do that,” Amspaugh explains.
After Marks graduates this summer, he says he relishes the fact that he will have a hand in passing the passion to read on to children.
“Right now I’m reading a mystery to the kids in my class,” Marks says, “I am hoping to get some of them interested in mysteries.”
The plan seems to be working.
“When I stopped today it was at a really good point. They had just found this guy all beaten up and they were all like, ‘Don’t stop! Don’t stop!’”