Dinan’s ‘Don’t Get Caught’ voted number one by readers

Andrea Hefferan | Staff Writer

It is not every day you find the author of the number one book on the Teens’ Top Ten list, but this year, look no further than room A202.

English teacher Kurt Dinan published his first book, ‘Don’t Get Caught’, in April 2016. This year, teenagers from all over the country voted it number one on the Teens’ Top Ten list.

Writing this book has allowed Dinan to relate to his students and the challenges they face.

“It definitely gives me more empathy for what students go through with writing,” Dinan said. “Writing is hard, and I guess I had forgotten that. But it’s something I struggle with every morning. You question whether it’s any good. You question whether it’s done right. You question whether your thoughts are clear on the page; there’s just that disparity between what you want to say and what you end up writing. I think that’s all stuff students go through.”

Authors must ensure that every word is necessary to their story, and Dinan brings this mindset to his students. According to sophomore Nina Pipala, his feedback helps keep her writing concise.

“He knows exactly what (my story) is supposed to be, because sometimes I would ramble on in my stories, and he would point it out because it’d be too long,” Pipala said. “He’s very meticulous, and I think that’s really great to have as a teacher.”

Senior Erin Gilliland, who had Dinan for Creative Writing I, appreciated that he shared his own work with the class.

“I remember there was this one horror story he told that was just really good, and at the end everyone was on pins and needles,” Gilliland said. “It’s just nice to be able to see your teacher’s work as well as your own because then it’s an open community of writing.”

Writing is not Dinan’s sole focus. Teaching and family take precedence in his life as well. Dinan says it takes a continued effort to fit writing in between his other responsibilities.

“My priority is my family, but then it’s my job because that supports the family. Writing is third on that list. So I have to find the time. And finding the time means getting up at 3:30 in the morning before those other things, family and school, have started or are awake, and doing it then.”

Dinan’s experience has greatly impacted those he teaches. Junior Alexander Wehr said that his writing skill has improved due to Dinan’s advice.

“Having an author as a teacher, you can get a lot of good input on your writing, especially because he’s an English teacher,” Wehr said. “From where I’m writing now, I’ve noticed a huge step from where I was at the beginning of last year, just because of his input.”