Change Makers: John Dutton

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Change Makers highlights the people of Prince William who are making a difference in our community. This month we are featuring teacher and author John Dutton.

When it comes to community involvement, John Dutton just may be an expert. From teaching middle
school to coaching youth sports and writing poetry to encouraging others to share their work, Dutton is actively involved in numerous areas of our community. Through his leadership and development, local open mic opportunity Spilled Ink is in its sixth year and continues to provide an inspiring outlet and welcoming gathering place for writers, authors and poets each month. Dutton has also authored two
children’s books and shares those stories and poetry lessons in local schools.

How long have you lived in the Prince William area, and what do you most like about living here?
I have lived in PWC for over 20 years. I love this area because of the vast entertainment /recreation opportunities it offers. Within an hour, you can hike the Shenandoah, tour a national museum, visit Mount Vernon or go see a Nationals game.

What are some of your favorite things to do in the area and why?
I enjoy fishing and kayaking on the Occoquan River. I love eating jambalaya at Okra’s. I spend hours hanging out and reading/writing at the Tackett’s Mill Library. Nothing beats a day of board games at Crossroads with friends. I look forward to the fourth Friday of every month when Spilled Ink is held at Jirani Coffeehouse. There are so many events and great places to visit in PWC. You name it, and you can find it.

How have you been involved in the community?
I have been a middle school teacher in PWC for 15 years. I have been at Beville Middle School for the last 12. I also coach the school’s wrestling team. I have been the creator and host of Spilled Ink, an open mic opportunity for writers, authors, poets and scribblers, which celebrates the written word. If you wrote it, we want to hear it! I am a founding member of The Poet Laureate Circle which, along with the PWC Arts  Council, sponsors the “In the Company of Laureates,” “The PWC Poet Laureate” and “Arts Alive.” I am a guest author/poet at local schools reading my two children’s books, Armadillo Lost Her Pillow and Argument at the Airport, or presenting lessons on poetry.

I was awarded the Outstanding Poetry Project of the Year from The Poet Laureate Circle for Spilled Ink. Spilled Ink is now in its sixth year and going strong. I was also awarded the Kathleen Seefeldt Community Volunteer Award from the Arts Council last year.

If you had to give advice to someone new to the area, what would you tell them and why?
Get out there! Get involved. Whatever your interests are, you can find it in PWC. Also, don’t forget to explore the surrounding areas. This area is full of history! Also, stop in at Spilled Ink and listen or, if you want to brave the mic, read. I am sure you will hear something you like. Check out SpilledInkVA.com for
more information.

How would you describe yourself in three sentences?
I can do it in one: I am a husband, father, son, friend, teacher, coach, author, host, reader, homeowner, gardener, light bulb changer, poet, Packers fan, fisherman and Nationals fan. I am sure I am forgetting something!

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