WriterCoach Connection matches Mandela writers with volunteer coaches


Darnell Waters, a sophomore at Media Academy, receives help from a WriterCoach Connection volunteer. The program has been at Media Academy for three years, but it has expanded to Mandela Academy this year.

A program that pairs writing coaches with students has expanded to Mandela Academy.
WriterCoach Connection is a nonprofit organization that works with students one-on-one and helps them improve their writing skills.
This fall, trained writing coaches are helping sophomores at Mandela on Thursdays and Fridays in a pilot program. Freshmen are expected to get one-on-one help this spring.
The writing program, however, is not new to Fremont.
“WCC is a wonderful program that’s helping students become better writers,” said Sonja Totten-Harris, a Media Academy English teacher who has worked with the organization for three years.
Writing coach Cathleen Yordi agrees. “Anyone can benefit from learning how to write,” she says.
Writing coaches help students involved in the program develop their writing and literary thinking skills on assignments chosen by their teachers.
A survey done by the organization showed that 94 percent of students who were coached found it helpful.
Mandela Academy Principal Robin Glover saw the success Media Academy has had with the program and wanted to adopt it.
“It can do nothing but good for our students,” she said.
The program runs on individual donations, grants and contributions from schools.
According to Robert Menzimer, executive director of WriterCoach Connection, it costs $25,000 to $40,000 to run the each school’s program. Every year, the program struggles to get the funding it needs to operate.
The program is now working with nine schools in four school districts. It has more than 400 volunteer coaches working with around 1,500 students.
Jennifer Morales, a student at Media Academy, said that writing essays has become easier for her since she started working with a writing coach.
“It really does help,” said Morales.
This is the kind of reaction that makes Menzimer so satisfied.
“   I really love this program.” said Menzimer. “Every day, when I sit down at my desk, I think, ‘I have the best job ever.'”