Essay Writing

Learn more about Writopia's Essay Writing program.

  • Danielle Sheeler

    Director of Camps and Curriculum
    Instructor
    DanielleSheeler

    Danielle has been part of the Writopia team since 2011. She currently codirects Writopia’s NYC full-day camps and WriCampia, Writopia’s Sleepaway Camp, and develops in-school and essay writing curricula. Danielle teaches writing workshops at Writopia, in schools, and in Residential Treatment Facilities for incarcerated youth. She provides literacy support and creative writing workshops for at-risk teens who are transitioning these facilities into adulthood as part of Writopia’s Write to Independence Program. She launched the Essay Writing program at Writopia in 2013. In 2015 and 2016, she was recognized by the Scholastic Awards "as an outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors." Prior to Writopia, Danielle tutored for the SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests both privately and with a Long-Island based company called Dynamic Tutoring.

    She has studied writing at Stanford University and New York University, and received her Masters in Humanities and Social Thought from the Draper Program at NYU in January 2010. She has co-written (with Yael Schick) a new musical How to Click, which was showcased at Shetler Studios and the Sorter Lee Theater. Her one-act play, Under Somebody's Nose, was produced at Roy Arias theater in November of 2012. She produced and performed the one-acts Graduands to Graduates; The Megalomaniac and Valedictorian Commence; and Scene From a Dartboard at the Manhattan Repertory theatre in March through June 2010, and the one-act Look at Me When I Am Talking to You at the Wings Theatre in New York in May 2008. She has had the opportunity to teach English and creative writing in a classroom setting to children in Pram-pram, Ghana; Quito, Ecuador; Chinatown, New York; East Palo Alto, California; and New Orleans, Louisiana.

  • Léna Roy

    New York Metro North Regional Manager
    Instructor
    Lena Roy

    Léna began teaching Writopia Lab workshops in Manhattan in 2009, then went on to bring the program to New York City's northern suburbs in 2010. Léna is the author of the YA novel, Edges, published by FSG. She co-edited the award-winning Girls Write Now anthology, First Lines. Her writing was featured in the essay collection for middle school kids and their teachers: Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Essays to Devour: Your Favorite Authors Take on the Dreaded Essay Assignment. In 2014, Léna was recognized by the Scholastic Awards "as an outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors." Léna earned her BA from Barnard, studying English and Italian literature, and her MA in Drama Therapy from NYU. Mentoring has long been the connective tissue in Léna's life, whether through her work with at-risk adolescents in Utah, California, and New York; or through her own writing discipline, as fostered by her late grandmother, author Madeleine L'Engle. It was her grandmother who taught Léna to transform the solitary nature of writing into a sacred sense of community, where her art and the art of others can flourish. You can visit Léna at www.lenaroybooks.com.

  • Jocquelyn Downs

    DC Regional Manager
    Instructor
    Jocquelyn Downs

    Jocquelyn Downs is very excited to be a part of the Writopia family. Jackie obtained her MFA in Film from Howard University and her Bachelors of Arts in Broadcast Communications from Johnson C. Smith University. In 2011, Love Languages, her thesis film, was showcased in the Cannes International Film Festival's Short Film Corner. She's also written, directed and produced original plays and musical productions that have been produced at McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jocquelyn has also worked as an Associate Producer for WSOC-TV and served as Producer for the Saturday Morning 8am Show. In her spare creative time, Jackie writes and performs spoken word poetry.

    Jackie has also been working closely with students on their creative writing for ten years in Washington DC and around the country. She has developed curricula for a variety of courses and agea groups ranging from middle school to college. As a high school Fine Arts instructor, over a period of six years Jackie taught courses including Creative Writing, Theater Arts, Public Speaking and Music Appreciation. She has led directing workshops at high schools in the Washington DC area and has worked as a Dramatic Arts Teaching Artist for the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop in Washington DC. She is currently juggling a few creative projects that are in post-production and is excited to start this next phase of her life with Writopia.

  • Alex Henderson

    Instructor
    AlexHenderson

    Alex Henderson has enjoyed working with young Writopians since 2012. Originally from North Carolina, he has lived in Prague, CR, and Washington, DC, where he was awarded the Thesis Fiction Fellowship by the MFA program at George Mason University. He soon made the leap to New York City and Writopia's headquarters here, where you can now find him most days of the week (sometimes it's hard to get him to leave). Alex spends his free time riding the subway with a notebook balanced on his knees or figuring out how to re-arrange the bookshelves in his Brooklyn apartment. His fiction has appeared in Harper-Perennial's Fifty-Two Stories and Ekleksographia. He will listen to anyone tell a good story.

  • Mason Henderson

    Programs Coordinator: Writopia Lab, Scholastic Writing Awards DC Metro Region
    Instructor
    Mason Henderson

    Mason is excited to be a part of the Writopia family. He began his work with Writopia while completing his Master’s degree at the University of Maryland where taught undergraduate English, poetry, and mixed-genre workshops. After receiving his MFA in Poetry, he joined the DC Writopia team full-time, combining his love for writing with his passion for youth arts education. He was named a Lannan Fellow in 2013 and served in the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress from 2012 to 2013, working closely with the United States Poet Laureate. His poetry has been chosen to represent the University of Maryland in the Intro Journals Project and most recently appears in the 8th issue of the Arroyo Literary Review.

  • Carolyn Ferrucci

    Instructor
    CarolynFerrucci

    Carolyn is a poet and short story writer from New York City. She is a graduate of Eugene Lang College the New School for Liberal Arts, where she received her BA in Creative Writing (2012). Carolyn is founder and curator of the monthly poetry reading series Spilt Milk and has read her work with various series around the city, including at The NYC Poetry Festival on Governor's Island (2013). She has collaborated on a sound collage reading at the Jewish Contemporary Museum in San Francisco (2014), and continues to collaborate with visual artists on site-specific installations, zines, and video projects. She is an ArtFarm Nebraska writer in residence (2014), and recent recipient of a writer's residency at AIR Bergen, Norway (2015). Carolyn is inspired by and thrilled to be part of the Writopia community.

  • Adrienne Benson Scherger

    Instructor
    Adrienne Benson Scherger

    Adrienne joined Writopia DC in 2013. She writes fiction and personal essays. Her work has appeared or is upcoming in Skirt! Magazine, Defying Gravity, Sierra Nevada Journal, the Washington Post, and Brain, Child. Her work-in-progress is a collection of linked stories about expatriates in Kenya. A native of the District, she is an adult "foreign-service brat" who spent most of her childhood following her development-worker parents around sub-Saharan Africa. After getting a BA in creative writing from Lewis and Clark College, she joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in a Himalayan village in Nepal. Since then, she has not only picked up an MA in nonfiction, but also called Kyiv, Ukraine; Tirana, Albania and Syracuse, New York home. Happily settled in Washington now, she lives with her three kids, one husband, and one barky terrier called Thor, Dog of Thunder.

  • Kathleen McCleary

    Instructor
    Kathleen McCleary

    Kathleen McCleary is the author of three novels, including House and Home (Hyperion); A Simple Thing (HarperCollins) and Leaving Haven (HarperCollins). Her non-fiction articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and other publications. She has also taught writing as an adjunct professor at American University. When she's not writing, she can be found in the gym, trying to teach herself to do pull-ups. You can find more about Kathleen's work at www.kathleenmccleary.com.

  • Jeremy Adams

    Assistant Instructor
    Jeremy Adams

    Jeremy loves being a part of the Writopia family. He began as a full-time intern in fall of 2013 and did such an amazing job working with our young writers that he's come on board as a part-time teaching assistant. Jeremy graduated from Gallaudet University in 2013 with a Bachelor's in Communications, and a minor in Ethics. During this time he also self published two books of poetry: Amazin Transcendence and Liberation. He is currently pursuing his Masters of Arts at Saint Johns College in Annapolis, Maryland and is excited to be working with Writopia students again this fall.

  • Gabe Durham

    Instructor
    Gabe Durham

    Gabe is excited to be a part of Writopia! He's the author of a summer camp novel called Fun Camp (2013) and a nonfiction book about weird Christian video games called Bible Adventures (2015). He received his M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from University of Massachusetts Amherst, and currently works as the editor and publisher of Boss Fight Books, a series of short critical books about games. His prose has been published in over 50 magazines and journals, including Electric Literature, Mid-American Review, and Puerto del Sol, and his projects have been featured in Nylon Guys, BuzzFeed, and The Onion A.V. Club. He's taught writing and literature at Bay Path College, Lipscomb University, Holyoke Community College, and Mount St. Mary's College.

  • Sarah Darer Littman

    Instructor
    Sarah Darer Littman

    Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning author of books for young people. Her first novel, Confessions of a Closet Catholic, won the 2006 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Older Readers. Her novel Life, After was a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book. She is also the author of Purge, named one of Bank Street College of Education's 2010 Best Books of the Year and Want to go Private? a 2012 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers and a Bank Street College Best Book for 2012. Her YA novel Backlash will be published by Scholastic in April 2015 and she's one of 12 authors chosen by CT Humanities to write "The Great CT Caper," an online mystery serial. Sarah also writes middle grade series fiction. In addition to writing for young people, Sarah is an award-winning political columnist for CTNewsJunkie.com and an adjunct professor in the MFA program at Western CT State College. Visit her online at SarahDarerLittman.com, WantToGoPrivate.com and on Twitter @sarahdarerlitt.

  • Donna Miele

    Instructor
    DonnaMiele

    Donna Lee Miele joined Writopia Lab in 2014 as an instructor at Cuppa Pulp Writers' Space in Nanuet, New York. She also teaches in Westchester. Donna writes primarily fiction and non-fiction (though she's been spotted enjoying poetry slams and open mics in Nyack). She recently finished a full-length fiction manuscript based on her family's life in Mindanao, Philippines during World War II, and is at work on her second novel. She received her MFA from Manhattanville College, has been published in MendaCity Review , blogs for Magnificent Nose, and has work forthcoming in Atticus Review. As owner-manager of Cuppa Pulp Writers' Space, Donna leads writing salons and workshops, organizes and facilitates author events, and just generally enjoys stirring the local writing soup, along with her Rockland County cohorts. She's looking forward to supporting a new generation of writers with Writopia Lab!

  • Alexandra Cohl

    Instructor
    Program Developer
    Developing Regions Manager
    AlexandraCohl

    Alexandra is thrilled to be an Instructor, Program Developer, and the Developing Regions Manager at Writopia NYC! As Developing Regions Manager, she oversees the growth of new regions and specifically serves as the Program Coordinator for the Chicago and Bay Area regions. Alexandra interned at Writopia NYC during the summer of 2014 after graduating from the University of Delaware with a BA in English Literature and a minor in Theatre Performance. While in school, she wrote and performed a solo Commedia dell’Arte mask show, Stella, for the theatre department and outside guests. Her short fiction has been published in Luna Luna Magazine. Throughout the school year, she instructs multi-genre workshops and private sessions, and in the summer, mainly works with the playwrights, helping them bring their written pieces to the stage. Outside of work, she writes memoir and realistic fiction and is currently working on a series of short stories. Periodic summer visits to her grandparents' house in upstate New York—or as her mother called it: "cousin camp"—proved to be influential in her artistic endeavors and remains a place of inspiration; she and her cousins would create and perform original stories, often times charging for entry. Since then, she has always loved the beauty and therapeutic power of words. In addition to reading and writing, she loves to sing and is especially moved by R&B and soul music.

  • Madeline Taylor

    Registration Coordinator
    Instructor
    Madeline Taylor

    Madeline Taylor joined Writopia as an intern in June 2015 and, after a year of working part-time, began full-time as Registration Coordinator. She also served as the Production Stage Manager for the Writopia Worldwide Plays Festival 2016. She graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College at Columbia University with a BA in English & Creative Writing. At Barnard, she stage managed, edited, and contributed to student-written theater productions, and her main areas of instruction at Writopia are the Playwriting & Performance program and the Essay Writing program. She writes primarily creative non-fiction and short fiction, and received recognition for her non-fiction writing at Barnard College with the Schwimmer Prize for the Humanities and the Estelle M. Allison Prize for Literature.

  • Anu Amaran

    Instructor
    Anu Amaran

    Anu Amaran (pen name: A. Anupama) is excited to work with the team of Writopians, young and old, in the Metro North labs. Anu is a poet, critic, essayist, and translator whose work has appeared in Fourteen Hills, CutBank, Numéro Cinq Magazine, Tulane Review, and elsewhere. She studied at Northwestern University and Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she received her MFA in writing. She currently organizes literary community and is a founding editor of the literary journal River River. She lives and writes in Nyack, New York. Find Anu’s musing at seranam.com.

  • Cara Stevens

    Instructor
    Cara Stevens

    Cara Stevens joined the Writopia team in the Fall of 2015. She has written 9 books for children including Dragon School, a mid-grade novel, and 3 books for Nickelodeon. She has designed educational video games and interactive storybooks, written for teen blogs like Kidzworld and BeingGirl, and has created ads and written articles for major publications. She studied Psychology at Vassar College and earned a Master of Arts degree in Communication from New York University. She is thrilled to join the Writopia community and hopes to learn a lot from the young writers in her workshops! She loves watching Doctor Who, Gilmore Girls and Animaniacs with her kids, and has read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 17 times and counting. Cara lives in Connecticut with her husband, two children, and loud, white, fluffy dog Oliver.

  • PJ DeGenaro

    Instructor
    PJ DeGenaro

    A writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, PJ DeGenaro is overjoyed to be joining the staff of Writopia's Northern Metro labs as of the summer, 2015. PJ’s writing has appeared in numerous publications including The Adirondack Review, The Westchester Review, and The Hudson Independent. Her short story, “Everything Is Not Yet Lost,” was awarded “Best Thing We’ve Read Today” by The Furnace Review. PJ earned her BA in Fine Art from Hofstra University, and her MFA in Fiction at Manhattanville College. She has taught academic writing at the college level, and has developed and facilitated creative writing workshops for adult-education programs.

  • Stephanie Susnjara

    Instructor
    Stephanie Susnjara

    Stephanie is thrilled to help kids and teens discover the joys of writing through Writopia Lab. Stephanie also works as a freelance writer/editor/researcher in the realms of journalism, web content, nonfiction book manuscripts, and film/television project development. In a teaching capacity she has taught creative nonfiction writing online through the Creative Nonfiction Foundation; has run script analysis seminars at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts to graduate and undergraduate film and dramatic writing students; and instructed high school students on writing college entrance essays. Her literary essays and book reviews have appeared in the following literary journals and anthologies: Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers; Brain, Child’s Greatest Hits; Brevity; Creative Nonfiction; Italian Americana; MotherVerse; and The Yorktown Anthology of New Writers (Gotham Press). Stephanie has a BA in Theatre from the University of Colorado (1986) and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College (2000). She lives in Katonah, New York, with her two children.

  • Emily Beyda

    Instructor
    Emily_headshotEmily Beyda joined Writopia the summer of 2013. She is a writer of fiction and food and travel journalism. Her stories have been featured in The Cupboard, Postcard Shorts, and Lightning Cake, and a piece she wrote recently debuted in spoken word form at an exhibition in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She writes a monthly culinary advice column called Ask a Glutton for The Hairpin, and worked as a restaurant critic for AsiaLife and The Word magazines when she lived in Saigon. She is hard at work on her first novel.

  • Katherine Kipp

    Instructor

    Katherine_Kipp_headshotKatherine is thrilled to join the Writopia team! A Tennessean at heart, she moved to Maryland to work on her MFA in Fiction Writing, which she received from the University of Maryland in 2014. She also has a MA in English from Southeast Missouri State University and a BA in English and Journalism from Union University. Her first book was a construction paper cut-out of a cat's face, containing a story about a disobedient kitten that she wrote in the 2nd grade. Since then, her writing has been published in Glasschord, Journey, and Big Muddy, and reviewed on newpages.com. As a journalist, she wrote entertainment and feature stories for small newspapers in Tennessee and Missouri. Currently, she teaches composition at the University of Maryland and Montgomery College. Katherine enjoys big cups of coffee, sushi, collecting books and journals, running and, of course, writing. She hopes to adopt a cat soon and name her after one of her favorite authors, Flannery O'Connor.

  • Eleanor Duke

    Assistant Instructor
    EleanorDuke

    Eleanor Duke is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She graduated from Brown University’s Literary Arts program with the top nonfiction writing prize, and is currently the assistant fiction editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

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