Writing Center Conference reaches out to secondary school programs

The University of Connecticut Writing Center sponsored the 2017 Conference for Secondary School Writing Centers, along with the Connecticut Writing Project on Friday morning. (File photo/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut Writing Center sponsored the 2017 Conference for Secondary School Writing Centers, along with the Connecticut Writing Project on Friday morning. (File photo/The Daily Campus)

“Good Tutor Bad Tutor,” a film by the Writing Center of Avon High School may not win any Oscars, but it managed to entertain the audience in the Student Union Theater on Friday morning. The theater was the home base of the 2017 Conference for Secondary School Writing Centers. The film, one of three presentations from schools in attendance, was rife with humor and tips for being a tutor at a writing center.

The University of Connecticut Writing Center sponsored the conference, along with the Connecticut Writing Project. Writing centers from secondary schools around the state got a chance to interact and learn from one another, as well as learn from the tutors and coordinators from the University of Connecticut. A number of UConn Writing Center tutors were present to help facilitate the event.

“I hope they see the passion behind the Writing Center, how much it means to really connect with the tutee,” fifth semester molecular and cell biology major and Writing Center employee Kerryan Ashley said.

Topics covered included ways to promote writing centers, the best times for writing centers to be open, the best way to help students who come into writing centers and how writing tutors can benefit from the experience as well.

“We become better as they (the students) become better,” said senior Narjea Leach from the Sports and Medical Sciences Academy (SMSA).

The conference focused a lot on building: how programs have been created all over the state, how centers in existence continue to improve and how UConn reaches out to help in both of these processes. At the beginning of the conference, a map was displayed showing the increase in writing centers and outreach programs over the years.

“Our goal is always to think about writing centers as an integral part of education at all levels,” said English graduate student and graduate assistant coordinator for graduate writing support, Eleanor Reeds.

Beyond just increasing the quantity of writing centers, everyone in attendance was concerned with the quality of the help provided. It’s not just about helping students to get As on their papers, but “to create a better understanding about writing,” said junior Jaxsia Wagoss of SMSA.

After the introduction and presentations in the theater, the school groups were divided up into sessions where they did activities to help them think about the quality of their centers and how to constantly improve. One activity was to make a vision board for their centers, using words and images to outline their goals for their physical spaces and also for what they hope can get accomplished in their centers.

Ashley outlined the goals of tutors at UConn similarly to the goals of tutors at the high school and middle school level.

“Most of all,” Ashley said, “the emphasis is on creating good writers.”


Alex Houdeshell is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.houdeshell@uconn.edu.