“Writing is an essential skill. It’s something that is going to benefit students in the long run, no matter what courses they take, no matter what they plan on doing after school; it helps them to communicate effectively, to build their language, and their ability to interact on many different levels in many different ways,” said Mrs. Henderson. This year Mrs. Henderson and Mrs. Spitzer have brought a writing center to Millbrook that is open to all students. Mrs. Henderson and Mrs. Spitzer had 14 hand-selected coaches to help other students through the writing process.
A writing center is a place where students can bring a piece of writing in any stage of the process to get assistance with. Coaches will be prepared to handle any kind of paper whether it’s a DBQ, a statistical analysis, a scientific report or just any regular English assignment. They will give honest feedback commending students on their strengths, helping students overcome weaknesses, and creating confidence in students and their writing abilities.
Mrs. Spitzer has experience in the creation of not one, but two writing centers. The first was in college at Virginia Tech where she was a first-year coach. “We had a really great writing center director, she guided us and knew exactly which direction we needed to go in, it was actually a really smooth transition between being a student and becoming a teacher. It really helped me in my professional life.” The coaches at the writing center have faith Mrs. Spitzer will be a good leader too, and properly prepare them for coaching other students. Mrs. Sptizer created her second writing center while she was teaching at Winnsboro High School in Maryland. “I used to work at Winnsboro High School in Maryland and there we developed a writing center. A group of about 20 students and I worked on that for a year. I did have to leave the position to come to Millbrook, but I’m still in contact with the teachers who took over that writing center.”
Mrs. Spitzer said that it was her success in creating a previous writing center that encouraged her to start one here. “I had success at my old school. We saw that students who visited the writing center had increases in their grades, their writing ability, and their confidence, and I think student inherently want to help one another and the writing center gives students the opportunity to help those who can’t get that one-on-one help from a teacher.”
Mrs. Henderson believes the writing center is a good idea because it helps the school meet several goals. She said, “I think it’s good for high schools to have a writing center because it builds a learning community. Our goal as a building is to promote student learning through metacognition, self-regulation, peer feedback, and students as instructional resources. So the writing center is a perfect way for us to hit all of those goals we have as a building to help students learn, progress, and to give students to confidence that they need in their writing and social skills to be successful after high school.” She also said, “It’s something that we’ve always wanted to try and establish. We wanted to promote growth, and we also wanted to use our students as instructional resources, so this was a perfect opportunity for us to introduce this to the building.”
Mrs. Henderson and Mrs. Spitzer both have high hopes for the writing center to become something big. Mrs. Spitzer said, “I hope students find confidence in writing, writing is difficult, it’s a long process, it’s an overwhelming process for some students, so I just hope that students leave with a sense of ‘if I really work at this I can do it, and I can do it well.’ Ultimately, I hope that all our students are prepared for their job, military or college experience.” Mrs. Henderson thinks that the one-on-one student interaction is going to be the most beneficial to students in the long run. She said, “I think the one-on-one interaction is going to be awesome because it’s going to give everybody an opportunity to evaluate writing in a different way. It’s going to give the coaches a chance to really think about how they write and how they approach writing as well as how they can another person improve too. The interaction, the sense of community and the idea that we’re all working together for one common goal, I think that’s really awesome.”
Nathaniel Stoltzfus, a coach, encourages his fellow students to attend the writing center. He said, “Students should go to the writing center because we are willing to help anyone with their writing assignments.” Nathaniel is eager to start working as a coach and begin helping other improve their writing. “I decided to join the writing center because helping other students with writing will better prepare themselves for their future,” Nathaniel said. He believes that writing is important for students’ futures. “Writing is beneficial for everyone to become successful in because there are a multitude of life applications for writing.”
The writing center will be taking on clients starting in the third quarter; however, there has been talk about starting sooner so keep your ear out for the announcements. Remember that the writing center is a non-judgemental zone, and the coaches are here to help students and they all understand that the writing process is long, hard and not for everyone. The writing center will be more than happy to take on any challenges and help students build their writing abilities and confidence. “The door is always open and we want people to come. We want people to participate, we want people to be involved, and to feel comfortable when they walk in the room, and to know that we are here to help and provide them with some positive feedback and to get them really engaged in their own writing,” said Mrs. Henderson.