The Story Behind the Doane Stuart Writing Center
By Writing Center Staff
During the 2017-2018 school year, Doane Stuart started a “writing center” to give upper school students the opportunity to discuss papers and presentations with peer tutors. The program works like this: a student schedules an appointment by talking with or sending an email to Mr. Bradt, the librarian and Writing Center Director. The student is then paired with a trained junior or senior tutor to discuss any writing-based assignment. The tutoring sessions are designed to be balanced conversations between tutor and tutee, not editing sessions, and tutors emphasize the skills and strategies students need to become better writers. While primarily a resource for upper school students, tutors have also worked with middle school students on homework under the direction of Mrs. Hodgkinson
Mr. Bradt explains what inspired him to start the program: “Before coming to Doane Stuart, I spent a lot of time as a writing tutor, both as a peer tutor in college and graduate school and as a professional tutor for Siena College’s Higher Education Opportunity Program. I saw what a positive impact tutoring can make on not only a student’s writing but also on their confidence. Peer tutoring is special because it expands academic discourse into spaces outside of the classroom. Plus, given how prevalent college writing centers are, having one at Doane Stuart helps fulfill our college-preparatory mission.
As the director, the best part about the Writing Center has been how dedicated our tutors are. Even during the first year, when few students used the Writing Center, our tutors came to our weekly meeting ready to discuss tutoring pedagogy and brainstorm ideas to bring in more students.”
Happily, the Writing Center has had far more students visit this school year, especially since some teachers have required their classes to visit. One such teacher is Ms. Russo, the 9th grade English teacher. In an interview, she said that she often sends her students to the Writing Center because “there are many benefits to peer-to-peer tutoring,” including the formation of “non-evaluative relationships built on trust … which enhance student confidence.” She hopes that the Writing Center will help students “see writing as more of a process-based activity and not just the end result of an assignment.”
Tutoring is also rewarding and beneficial for the tutors themselves. Brian Ganeles, the SGA President and someone who has shown exemplary leadership at the Writing Center, explains, “I like connecting with everyone who comes in and listening to their writing. The stories, essays, and reports people bring to the writing center are all unique and interesting.”
Moving forward, the Writing Center is looking to get even more students involved. As Isabella Maitino, a senior who will be attending Boston University in the fall, puts it, “I recommend becoming involved in the writing center as either a tutor or tutee to anyone who is interested in finding their own voice as a writer and having fun while they do it!”