Caroline Simms comes to the Missoula Writing Collaborative with a background in teaching English, in software sales, and in business and nonprofit leadership. A passionate writing educator, Caroline taught K-12 and college students in Missoula and in New Zealand. She is thrilled to support the Writing Collaborative with experience she’s gained from her professional work, and from her years of nonprofit board service. Please enjoy the following interview with Caroline!

Could you describe a bit about your professional journey and how that led you to MWC?

I was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and with the help of some wonderful teachers, learned to love writing and reading at a young age. I earned an English degree from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR, then started leading high school trail crews and eventually worked on Park Service trail crews in Wyoming and Montana.

I came to Missoula and UM to earn a teaching certification, then went on to teach English at Sentinel High School. I also earned a Masters in English Teaching from UM and immediately after, moved with my new husband to Auckland, New Zealand, where I taught middle school English. Back in Missoula again, I worked for almost ten years as an adjunct instructor of composition and professional writing at UM.

I left teaching to see what the fuss was about in the business world, and landed a sales role at Submittable, the home-grown Montana technology start-up with deep roots in the literary and visual arts.

I started learning about nonprofit work by joining Home ReSource’s Board of Directors, a board I still sit on. I am so excited to get to step into the role of executive director for MWC and to get to share my passion for writing, teaching, and nonprofit leadership.

Tell us about a favorite book and why?
My answer to this question is always To Kill a Mockingbird, because it was the first book I fell in love with. Good luck was with me in 8th grade, when my English teacher drew me into that book’s riches. Her inspiration led me to read more and widely, and to teach.
More recently, I’ve shouted from the rooftops about Richard Powers’ The Overstory, Annie Proulx’s Barkskins, and Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land. Evidently I love multi-character epics. And books about trees.

What do you enjoy most about working at MWC so far?
This is an easy one: the board and staff, past and present, are inspiring and wise and make this organization the gift to western Montana that it is. Once I have the chance to sit in with our writers in classrooms, I’ve no doubt that I’ll be similarly moved by what they and their students can accomplish, even in a few short weeks. The Missoula Writing Collaborative is exactly where I have always wanted to be. I’m learning a ton every day about its people, how it ticks, and its vital, vibrant residencies and programs.

Where can you be found when not at work?
Most often these days, I can be found with my husband moving around Montana and beyond to watch our two daughters swim, dance, and bike. I also love to spend mornings hiking our young mutt-dog, evenings in my garden (weeding is the very best stress-reliever), and weekends with friends and family backpacking, skiing, mountain biking, and always cooking and eating. A favorite time of day is when I can finally curl up in bed with a book.