Sep 9, 2014
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For the first time, students at both Richmond High and Kennedy High will have access to free, one-on-one writing instruction during the school year.

That’s the result of an expansion in Richmond of the highly-regarded WriterCoach Connection program, which recruits and trains community volunteers to help students on their writing assignments and help them gain confidence in the craft.

The program will enter its third year at Richmond High and expand to Kennedy High. Coaching begins on Oct. 8 at Richmond High and sometime in mid-October at Kennedy. Details of the program are still being ironed out at Kennedy, program officials said.

More than 150 trained volunteers, including parents, lawyers, college students, retired educators, writers and other professionals, are expected to devote more than 1,000 hours to Richmond students this year.

About 100 of those volunteers will support Richmond High teachers and students in eight 10th-grade classrooms in the Engineering and Law Academies. The school’s English Language Development (ELD) classrooms will also receive volunteers.

Another 55 volunteers are expected to guide Kennedy High 10th graders in the Law Academy and another English class.

Teachers vouch for the program for increasing writing proficiency.

“They [writing coaches] worked with my class, and the whole atmosphere changed,” Richmond High teacher Madison Schmalz said in a statement. “Students started to buy into their essays, and actually turn things in. I saw my students really develop their critical thinking and organization skills. I am very excited to see how my students grow [with writing coaches support] this year.”

WriterCoach Connection has served more than 25,000 middle and high school students at 11 East Bay schools since 2001, making it the largest continuing Bay Area program dedicated to school writing support.

For additional information about WriterCoach Connection, visit the organization’s website at


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.