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About J Stanion.

My real name is Gwendolyn McPhail.


It all started with the words "Iron Horse" and stories I'd heard for as long as I could remember. They led to a lifelong interest in horses, Indigenous culture and the impact education could have.

J Stanion is the pen name I created from my father's first initial and my great-grandfather's last name. Dad spoke very proper English and believed in the power of the written word. If my writing had to be grammatically correct, I had only to close my eyes and listen for his voice in my head. His efforts were reinforced by Mrs. Marty Mathis, 10th grade English teacher at Newberry High School, who honed my literary skill with interpretations of poems by e.e.cummings and various renditions of Shakespeare.  I will forever be indebted for their gifts.

Writing has allowed me to reflect on my feelings and attitudes, to exchange funny poems with my father when there were things I couldn't say out loud, to succeed at being named a National Board Certified teacher of Science, and to research and complete the application of our family farm for its listing on the National Register of Historic Places (McPhail Angus Farm). Finally, I've published my first novel, a story of tragedy and triumph that took three generations to be told. 


1974 to 1999

Clemson University

& Newberry College

First degree: BS in Animal Science, minor in Wildlife Biology

Second degree: Education (requirements for teaching certification)

Master's degree: Agricultural Education, concentration in Therapeutic riding


National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

Received National Board Certification in Science while teaching at Walhalla Middle School. Transferred to West Oak High School to teach Food Science and Livestock Production.

Birth to Current

School of Hard Knocks

Public school barely began the preparation needed for my life as it turned out. I will be eternally thankful for a mother and father who taught their daughters that we didn't have to settle for traditional women's roles in life and that anything was possible if you worked hard enough.

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Ledger art by Quinton Maldonado.

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