Young people have something to say. And it is our job to help them express themselves clearly.
Episcopal students benefit from robust writing mentoring, and in that spirit, the Writing Center continued its work this year to support Middle and Upper School writers and nurture their development. The writing process reminds students that learning is iterative and never finished. There are endless opportunities to adapt and shape a piece of writing, which is a helpful reminder that progress, not perfection, is an ambitious, lifelong goal.
The Writing Center’s relocation to Aldrich Library allowed us to discover new ways to engage Writing Fellows with students. With a centralized location in a spacious facility, our Writing Fellows were better equipped to support entire classes and collaborate with our librarian, Tiffany Whitehead. While we still accommodated plenty of one-on-one appointments, our Fellows interacted with a number of classes who visited the library to research, write and revise.
Fellows supported the 6th grade primitive tools research project, hosted 7th Grade slam poetry workshops and judged the final competition, fielded MLA citation questions from 7th graders on their research and annotated bibliography assignment, and hosted conferences for 9th grade World History and English research papers, 9th grade English literary analyses and 6th grade argumentative social studies essays. Fellows are generous with their time and are coached to use strategic questioning that helps the writer identify ways to strengthen their work. This style of writing mentoring teaches students the types of questions to ask themselves when they are working on a piece of writing in the future.
To share our successes this year and to learn about other writing centers around the country, senior Fellow, Alex Nelson, and I presented at the Secondary Schools Writing Center Association Conference in March. Our presentation, “Writing Center Integration: Partnerships to Combat Isolation and Insulation,” focused on the work we’ve done this year to collaborate with teachers and lend support where needed. The process of applying to the conference with Alex and creating our presentation materials together once we were accepted was a rewarding experience! As the newly elected Southeast Representative of the SSWCA board, I look forward to collaborating with writing center leaders across the country and bringing the best ideas back to our WC here at Episcopal.
Finally, I’d like to thank the following senior Writing Fellows for their service during their time at Episcopal! Each one has contributed to helping students find their clearest, most powerful voice. Thank you for your enthusiastic service!
Katie Sutcliffe joined Episcopal in 2011 and is currently the Director of the Writing Center and Thesis Program, as well as the co-creator of LAUNCH, Episcopal’s annual TEDx-style student-planned and executed showcase of ideas and projects. Katie holds a Bachelor of Arts in English (Writing) from DePauw University, an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from the University of Pittsburgh and was a 2005 Teach For America corps member. Katie currently serves as the Southeast Representative for the Secondary Schools Writing Center Association Board. She has taught English and writing courses for middle and high school students, gifted students and even continuing-education adults. She’s passionate about research and writing that have practical implications for understanding and addressing real world challenges.