Two years ago, Danielle Sheeler, longtime Director of Camps and Curriculum at Writopia, wrote a paper for the Columbia School of Social Work on Writopia’s in-school impact. This fall she reworked her paper now titled “Inviting Joy into room Writing Instruction: An Exploration of the Use of Creative Writing Within the Neoliberal Context of Standardization” and submitted it to Emily Klein, Ph.D. and Monica Taylor, Ph.D’s journal, The Educational Forum. It was accepted for publication for November, 2021. We are so proud of Danielle’s brilliance, hard work, and dedication to our mission.
Our Executive Director, Rebecca Wallace-Segall, was awarded a scholarship to participate in Columbia Business School’s certificate program in Organizational Excellence for Nonprofit Leaders this spring. She loved the opportunity to study the current literature with renowned professors in the field for over 90 hours on topics ranging from Leading Inclusivity, Managing Conflict, Operational Excellence, Values-Based Leadership, and much more.
Yael Schick, Director of Programs, has been accepted to Harvard Graduate School of Education and will earn her Masters in Education Leadership, Organizations, and Entrepreneurship during the 2021-2022 school year. She is a recipient of a Saul Zaentz Fellowship, awarded to emerging leaders in early childhood education. We are so proud of her! Best of all, Yael will be working at Writopia part-time during the year before she plans to return with increased expertise, poised to deepen and broaden Writopia’s reach and impact in a new leadership role.
Accomplishments & Impact
In January, Rob Roy, who is now our Director of Programs Operations, oversaw with his team the adjudication of 6500 submissions to the Scholastic Awards in The Bay Area, Washington DC, Westchester, and Chicago. (Writopia Lab is the affiliate partner in those regions.) The team ran this operation seamlessly and thoroughly, and followed up with an inspiring, national online ceremony.
Three years ago, The Pinkerton Foundation agreed to fund the Positive Literacy Collaborative, an idea that the Executive Director of Youth Services at Goddard Riverside, Susan Matloff-Nieves, and Rebecca Wallace-Segall dreamed up over vegan soup while considering ways to achieve greater literacy impact in the sector. After three years of co-building and co-processing together, Susan and Rebecca, funded by The Pinkerton Foundation, have begun co-writing a narrative recapitulation of our partnership experience to present at conferences and publish in the field.
Writopia Lab Staff Promotions!
- Janelle Williams, who has been with us for five years, is now Associate Director of Programs.
- Lena Roy, who has been with us for 12 years, is now Director of Teen Programs.
- Rob Roy, after ten years of serving Writopia New York Metro North, is now Writopia Lab’s Director of Programs Operations.
- Madeline Taylor, after five years serving in our national office in NYC, is now Writopia Lab’s Associate Director of Programs Operations.
- Elsa Bermudez, our Senior Programs Manager, after six years of working in our NYC office, has moved to our Los Angeles office. She is continuing to manage our Homes for the Homeless partnership and co-manage our Write to Recognition program while teaching in Los Angeles in person and online, and is training to oversee the health and growth of Writopia L.A.
- After serving for two years as program coordinators, Rachel Dean, based in Westchester, and Rita Feinstein, based in DC, are now Writopia Program Managers.
- After three years of teaching workshops and running the Songwriting Program at WriCampia, Malcolm Knowles is now Division Head of Upper Boys.
Welcome to our New 2021 Full-Time Staff
- Alex Tlatelpa, our new Accounting and Operations Specialist!
- Andriy Repik, our Full-Time summer IT and Operations Specialist
- Rachel Zubrin, our new DC Program Coordinator
- Will Bond, our Full-Time Media Coordinator
The Bronx: In January, Danielle and Janelle intiatited and launched weekly creative writing and GED test preparation workshops for eight writers at Bronx Connect, an Alternative to Detention Center, for writers ages 15-24.
New Mexico: In February, we began partnering with Pojoaque Valley High School AVID Program, working with high school seniors from low income backgrounds both on college essay and analytical essay writing. Six instructors are working across three es.
Los Angeles: In February, our West Coast staff ran our first program with the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was a one-day program with teens enrolled in a multidisciplinary arts program they run.
Brooklyn: In February, Brooklyn Regional Manager, Bianca Turetsky initiated and launched a partnership with the Brooklyn Friends School. Our staff ran an amazing spoken word workshop for 225 elementary and middle school students.
Brooklyn: In March, Bianca also oversaw the launching of a free three-week creative writing program at the Park Slope Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library for tweens and teens.
NYC: We’ve served thousands of Success Academy writers from across NYC, providing enrichment through creative writing and specialized workshops.
NYC: This summer we are working with the K-8 writers at the Harlem Village Academy, infusing their summer learning with mystery writing, graphic novels, and creative writing!
This school year, thanks especially to Paddy Spence and Kim Hartman’s continued support and other individual donors’ support, we extended our work at PS 89, a Title 1 school in The Bronx, serving 300 young writers in 10 elementary and middle school rooms for free throughout the entire school year.
Chappaqua Middle Schools in Westchester: Lena helped the PTA transform their one day community event, The Young Writers Workshop, into a three session program run entirely by Writopia, serving 64 middle schoolers and culminating in a reading at the end of March.
Homes for the Homeless: Yael Schick, Director of Programs, is continuing to serve pre-school children and Senior Manager, Elsa Bermudez teens remotely through our Language Play Program and our Write to Recognition program (funded by The Pinkerton Foundation and Andrea Stern)
Goddard Riverside workshops: Since January, we have begun working with 15 children in small groups remotely, and one-on-one, and the numbers are still growing. This partnership is funded by The Pinkerton Foundation, as part of the Positive Literacy Collaborative.
Worldwide Plays Festival: There is A Field: A Microplay Festival For Our Moment; For this year’s festival, we were inspired by a poem by the Sufi Poet, Rumi, who wrote:
“Out beyond the ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing
There is a field.
I will meet you there”
We produced over 50 plays; some virtually, over Zoom, and others live through socially-distanced outdoor readings in Central Park and Riverside Park. Some questions our writers considered: What does it mean to pursue justice? What does it mean to engage with someone on the opposing side? What do we risk when we engage? How can we ever get to forgiveness? What is the space after forgiveness?