Imagine you are assigned an essay. As you sit down to write it, questions are racing through your head. Do I have a good topic? Am I outlining my paper in the right way? Does my argument make sense?
Whether they are exceptional writers or not, many students have questions and doubts about what they are writing. Aside from going to the teacher, there aren’t many places students can go to get a second opinion on their writing.
This is where WRITE comes in. WRITE is a peer tutoring service, created last year by college counselor Mrs. Hogan and English teacher Mr. Schmalzbauer. Chosen upperclassmen who love to write are stationed in the ARC before and after school, and during some study halls (see WRITE Schedule posted outside of the ARC). Their goal is to give students another set of eyes on their writing to help them improve, regardless of skill level.
WRITE is actually an acronym, meaning Welcome, Read, Investigate, Talk and Excite. This is the mission for the peer tutors. It is their job to welcome students in the ARC, read what they have written, dig deeper into the writing, talk with the student, and make them excited about writing in general.
Although Providence students already have reputations for being great writers, Mr. Schmalzbauer and Mrs. Hogan want students to learn how to revise their work. “No activity done the first time is good enough; that’s what education is all about,” said Mr. Schmalzbauer. With the help of WRITE peer mentors, students can learn how to amend their writing and improve something they already do well.
WRITE was created with the intention of emphasizing the importance of writing at PA. Mr. Schmalzbauer and Mrs. Hogan bring their two perspectives together to try to accomplish this task. As an English teacher, Mr. Schmalzbauer hopes that WRITE will help emphasize the importance of writing as a craft. “I believe in the power of writing,” he said.
Apart from this focus, Mrs. Hogan wants WRITE to call attention to writing as a life skill. Her goal is to have, “really strong writers going off to college.”
Beyond the goals of the writing lab, WRITE is very beneficial for upper school students at PA. WRITE helps students learn to write well, in an objective way. Oftentimes it can seem like essays have to be written in a certain way to please specific teachers, which can be confusing for students. However, when they revise their work, students realize that there is a right and a wrong way to write, no matter the subject, class, or topic.
WRITE also presents a leadership and service opportunity for upperclassmen. Peer tutors are selected by English teachers, and they are stationed in the ARC for roughly 30 minutes a week. This honor for WRITE mentors is also in place as an incentive to encourage younger students to improve their writing so they can be tutors themselves in the future.
Even with all of these benefits, many people are still hesitant to visit WRITE. The prospect of having your writing looked at can be a little intimidating. However, WRITE tutors and advisors want the experience to be very pleasant and relaxed.
WRITE peer tutors are truly passionate about helping students take the next step in their writing process, and they want students to feel as comfortable as possible. WRITE mentor Grace Van Dellen ’18 is a perfect example of this. “To anyone hesitant to visit the ARC, I would say that WRITE is meant to be a very relaxed form of peer review. It’s just fellow students revising work and talking through essays, so it’s very casual,” she said.
Additionally, the WRITE space itself is meant to be encouraging to students. With WRITE, advisors Mr. Schmalzbauer and Mrs. Hogan hope to re-purpose the ARC to make it more accessible to students. The main goal overall is to make students feel comfortable talking to the peer mentors about their writing, and the inviting ARC environment helps accomplish that.
I may be a little biased in my opinion of WRITE, as I am a WRITE peer tutor myself, but I really believe that WRITE can be such a special part of the PA community. The advice of classmates offers a new perspective that otherwise wouldn’t have been considered. With the promise of improvement, a welcoming environment, amazing peer mentors, and delicious snacks, why not give WRITE a try?