Every week, at a teacher’s request, we send our armies of volunteers into local schools to work side-by-side with students through our In-school projects. In 2003, one school thought it would make sense to give us our own room to staff with tutors every day. We loved that idea, and so the Writers’ Room at Everett Middle School was born. Our volunteers spent the summer transforming an unused storage room off the library into a warm, welcoming space. That fall, we began working with every student in the school. Since we’ve been there, scores have gone up and writing skills have improved dramatically.
Our approach works in a simple yet effective way: a teacher sends half of her class to the Writers’ Room to work with our volunteers while she works with the other half. This means that all students receive significantly more attention and feedback. We’re a regular presence on campus, and every student gets a chance to work in the Writers’ Room multiple times. With our team of volunteers working directly with the class, each student is given a personal instructor, and teachers are able to carry out ambitious projects and give more in-depth instruction.
The Writers’ Room at Everett Middle School produces the Straight-up News, a bilingual school newspaper written and edited by Everett students. At James Lick Middle School, the cornerstone of the partnership is a mighty student-authored magazine called Slick. Each eighth-grader generates their topic, interviews experts, and spends days writing and rewriting their pieces for publication in the magazine.