WriterCoach Connection orientation set for Richmond on Jan. 16


Here is a New Year’s resolution that will have a broad and lasting impact — and it requires an investment of just two hours per week of your time.

The WriterCoach Connection, a 17-year-old, Oakland-based nonprofit organization that trains volunteers to become writing coaches at local schools and youth programs — including those in the Richmond area — is seeking more volunteers for its programs that begin in January.

Prospective writing coaches are encouraged to attend an orientation in Berkeley on Friday, Jan. 12 and in Richmond on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

The Richmond orientation is set to take place from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 5625 Sutter Ave. To register for an orientation or for more information about becoming a coach, click writercoachconnection.org or call (510) 858-7108.

Currently, nearly 600 trained volunteers are working with close to 2,400 young people in schools and youth programs from El Sobrante to Oakland according to WriterCoach Connection.

“Our volunteer coaches show middle and high school age youth with whom they work that they care,” WriterCoach Connection Site Coordinator Riti Dhesi said. “After students write draft essays, for example, coaches help students understand how to improve those essays. The coaches listen and ask questions to help students flesh out their thinking, and coaches offer a lot of encouragement. The result is better critical thinking and ultimately more confident writers.”

Logan McDonald, a volunteer coach at Longfellow Middle School in Berkeley, called the program “a way to strengthen the student and benefit the whole community at the same time.”

Clementina Duron, a retired educator, said she finds coaching “to be a powerful way to give back to students who really need the support.”

Shirley Haney, who has coached for five years, said some kids find writing to be daunting, and to ease their process she tells them to write their truth, then determines with the student examples or evidence to back up that truth.

“I’ve had students thank me at the end of the year for teaching them how to learn,” she said.” It’s so rewarding to know that I made an impact.”