Katie (Fesuk) Hartsock arrived on Walker’s campus after her family relocated from Massachusetts. It wasn’t long before Katie found herself involved in a variety of Walker activities. Though she “dabbled” in tennis, basketball, soccer, Model UN, Spanish Club, InterACT, Arrive Alive, Drama became her singular passion.
“Edward Deavers,” she states, “changed my life… He inspired loyalty. He inspired me--period. I wanted so tenderly to speak and act and think and be on stage in a manner that pleased him; I wanted to make him proud in the way that I made my parents proud because he held us all to such a high standard of achievement and behavior.”
Self described as “an inconsistent student,” Katie credits a community that valued the arts, culture, literature and “being a little (or a lot) off center” as the safe space she needed to develop genuine connections with her teachers and classmates and to prepare her for The University of Georgia. “If I had ever felt like a middle-of-the-road student at Walker when compared to my peers (and I did and I was), that sensation vanished swiftly in college. I knew how to handle an incredible volume of academic work, I'd been trained how to read well and carefully, and I could write a killer paper like nobody's business.”
Her preparedness helped her to complete her UGA core coursework early, focus on her final and most valuable major English courses, get a part-time job teaching at an after-school program in Athens, intern in publishing at the Georgia Museum of Art, and spend a final semester abroad at Oxford University studying Virginia Woolf and Shakespeare. Since those years at UGA, Katie also studied at the graduate level and received degrees from Agnes Scott College, Kennesaw State University, Georgia State University, and Reinhardt University. With a smile, she shares, “for a kid who was voted class clown and spent a lot of time as a teen struggling to find my academic sweet spot, I have become a pretty solid education addict, always looking for more ways to learn and better my mind!”
Katie’s first book of poetry, Mamabird (Finishing Line Press)
, is set to be released January 2020. The opening poem from which the book derives its name, was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize
by the journal in which it first appeared, River Heron Review
. A book in six sections, Mamabird is equally divided between the roles of "Mama" and "Bird," encapsulating narrative experiences of raising children, losing a beloved parent, caring for another parent with memory loss, self-hood, and the role of the artist and art-making in our modern political climate. It is being hailed as a collection that is “lush and lyrical, at once questioning and affirming…” and reviewed as “a triumph.”
Today, Katie finds herself filling multiple roles. She is mother to Mary Katherine (10) and Sawyer (11), part-owner along with husband, Damien, of the local restaurant The Whiskey Project. In addition to her teaching responsibilities (American English and AP Seminar at Mount Paran Christian School), Katie leads writing groups and workshops for local groups, churches, senior centers and other communities. She is the primary caregiver for her father, who suffers from dementia.
And, she is still learning. “We existed in a bit of a social microcosm (at Walker), and I learned to value, honor, and appreciate my peers--to recognize, be part of, and embrace counter-culture and to value intelligence and learning as a treasure to behold.”