Starting in the 2009-2010 spring term, the Stuyvesant English Department implemented the Writing Center—a revival of a mid-1990s program in which student teachers worked one-on-one with students to help them with their writing assignments. The program helps Stuyvesant students improve their basic writing skills and focus on organization, clarity and simplicity.
The four student teachers who work at the Writing Center come from local universities such as Columbia Teacher’s College, City College of New York and College of Staten Island. They sit in the Writing Center—inside the library to the left of the teachers’ area—every period and help students who sign up.
The program gained popularity due to the support of teachers, who started advertising it in their classes, as well as students, who recommended it to their peers. “In our first six weeks, we helped more than 200 students. It’s been a huge success,” said Katherine Fletcher, the NYU graduate student who helped to organize the program.
According to English student teacher Brooke Schechner, the student teachers generally work with around twelve students per day.
“It’s really popular, but we’re always looking for more people,” Schechner said. “You can come at any stage of the writing process and it’s really helpful to talk about your writing.”
Students who have attended the Writing Center have found it to be an excellent resource. “They really work with you specifically on your problems and they show you how to overcome them,” freshman Antara Majumdar said.
Sophomore Wei Lin agreed. “They really helped me start and plan out my essay,” Lin said. “They gave really good advice.”
English teachers have also noticed improvements in their students’ essay grades. “I saw grades jump from a C plus to an A plus,” English teacher Rosa Mazzurco said. “It’s great. I can’t believe we’ve survived so long without it.”
The student teachers were similarly enthused. “Kids come back telling us they got an A plus, which is the best part and makes it so rewarding,” Schechner said.
Sometimes, the Writing Center, with its staff of four, cannot handle the increasing number of attendees and has had to turn away many prospective students. “But students have been able to set up an alternate times to meet up with the student teachers,” Assistant Principal English Eric Grossman said.
According to Grossman, there are plans for more student teachers to come next fall to accommodate the many students who want help from the Writing Center. “We’re looking into funding, but it’s not definite,” he said.