WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — This fall, the Williams Center at Mount Greylock Regional School established Studio 1781, a new writing center designed to support juniors and seniors as they prepare for college and beyond.
Studio 1781 is part of the ongoing Writing Fellows Program at Mount Greylock, which is coordinated by Jessica Dils. Chris Mastendino, a special education teacher, and Kate Brown, an English teacher, oversee Studio 1781 (named for the school's address at 1781 Cold Spring Road).
Brown wrote a grant last spring that provided funding for the program, and she and Dils worked over the summer to plan, organize and create training guides for Williams College students who serve as the Writing Fellows at Mount Greylock.
Fellows mentor Mount Greylock students in middle and high school English classes, life skills classes, and now in Studio 1781 as well. In the Studio 1781 program, the Writing Fellows have the chance to engage with student writers individually. The emphasis of their coaching is on creativity and revision-based writing.
"During the first two semesters, more than 20 students have reached out and accepted support from Studio 1781," Brown said. "It has been exciting to watch students grow academically, gain strength in the areas of self-advocacy, understand who they are as learners, and realize what they need to do in order to be successful beyond high school. We anticipate student participation numbers to increase steadily as familiarity and relationships continue to be forged."
Fellows are selected based on their proven commitment to education, experience as strong writers, and ability to serve as role models for students at Mt. Greylock. They are trained to assist high school students to improve their writing skills across the curriculum and provide constructive feedback throughout the year on a consistent weekly basis.
Mary MacDonald, the district’s curriculum, instruction and assessment coordinator, and Kim Grady, the district's director of pupil personnel services, guide and oversee this training.
"College students are uniquely suited to be positive role models for high school students," Grady said. "They assist us as educators as we encourage students to pursue college and career readiness skills."
The Williams Center at Greylock, now in its fourth year, serves both the Mount Greylock and Williams College communities by creating collaborations between the schools that enrich learning experiences not only of the middle and high school students but also those of Williams undergraduates.
"While the program coordinators and faculty oversee Studio 1781, it is the fellows who give it the energy, enthusiasm, and consistency it requires," Dils said. "Our goal is that the Writing Fellows grow as mentors and teachers while the students at Mount Greylock grow as writers, critical thinkers and advocates for their own learning."
In addition, Dils noted that Studio 1781 aims to continue fine-tuning and expanding in order to serve more students with one-on-one mentoring for all kinds of writing projects.
"We have already expanded the scope of our outreach to include assistance with MCAS preparation and will be adding mini 'skills lessons' to the fellows' repertoire as well to target writing-specific focus areas," she said.