In partnership with the West Contra Costa Unified School District and Richmond Excellence Serving our Community (ESC), WriterCoach Connection launched at Richmond High School last year to help students develop essential school, career, and life skills. At Richmond High, 75 writing coaches helped 150 English Language Development students (grades 9-12) with a range of writing assignments.
One of those WCC volunteers is Bertha Romo, a Richmond ESC staff member, who says that she was intrigued by the opportunity to give back to Richmond High School, where she graduated in 2008.
Wondering if there are there others of you who joined WCC or might join WCC for the opportunity to give back to your school?
Here are more excerpts from the interview with Bertha:
Did WriterCoach Connection give you enough support?
This is one of the many unique aspects of this program. We had six hours of training which covered a lot of material. We were able to practice with each other so we could learn how to navigate situations with students that are well prepared and those that aren’t. During the actual coaching, the WriterCoach Site Coordinator was always there to help when we ran into challenges.
Do you think it’s effective to coach students individually?
Definitely. It’s important that students get that one-on-one time and attention. During our time together, the students would read their work and I was there as their guide. I would share with them which parts of their writing were well written and areas they could work on. They don’t get that often enough: being listened to and receiving individual feedback. It’s a feel-good moment when I give them compliments; it gives them confidence that they have strengths. They smile and feel proud when you say something good about them and their writing.
Do you feel like you made a difference by being a writing coach?
Yes! At the end of the school year I got a letter from one of the students I coached thanking me for taking time to work with him. He also told me that he placed out of ELD (English Language Development) and thanked me for helping him do this! I felt a deep sense of gratification that I’d really made a difference in his life.
What did you most look forward to during your coaching sessions?
Seeing the youth! It was fun learning about them through their writing and I looked forward to seeing it develop. In the last meeting we looked back on the work from the beginning of the school year. As I was reading one of the student’s papers I thought to myself, “Oh wow. This student really developed his writing!” By the end of the school year, their writing was so much more descriptive. When I was reading their work, it was as though I was there.
What kind of time commitment was it?
Coaches work with students 2-3 times per month for an hour and a half during the school day. We worked individually with each student and I generally worked with the same two students each time.
Would you recommend being a WriterCoach to your friends and family?
Yes – definitely! It’s fun, rewarding, and you get all the support you need. The WriterCoach Connection staff is wonderful!