By Catherine O’Connell

For the past seven years, WriterCoach Connection (WCC) has provided writing support to 9th and 10th grade students at Oakland’s Fremont High School. Starting in February, WCC volunteers will also be coaching students at Oakland’s Life Academy High School. This small, diverse school, located in the Fruitvale district, prepares students for careers as health and bioscience professionals. WCC will pair trained community volunteers to coach every 10th grader one-on-one through their classroom writing assignments.

WCC coaching strengthens students’ writing skills and helps students develop their ideas. With positive encouragement from a caring adult, students become confident and competent writers and thinkers. As Annie Hatch, a 10th grade English teacher at Life Academy said, “Good writing is power, and I want more than anything for my students to feel empowered rather than disenfranchised, overlooked or oppressed, as they often are. I am so excited for students to have the type of one-on-one coaching that WriterCoach Connection provides, so they can see themselves as real writers, working with a partner to better their craft.”

Although the expansion provides WCC with an exciting opportunity to serve more Oakland students, it has also created an urgent need for additional trained volunteers. WCC welcomes parents, grandparents, college students, working and retired people, and community members of all cultures and backgrounds as coaches. Volunteers do not have to be writers or teachers. All volunteers attend two 3-hour training sessions that provide them with the strategies and practices they need to be terrific coaches.

The volunteer time commitment is not demanding, only 1-2 hours a few weeks per month. But the satisfaction of forging connections with students is tremendous and the dividends for teachers, students and coaches are immense. As one WCC coach said, “It’s the highlight of my week.”

Training sessions will be held through February. For more information visit the WCC website, or contact Catherine O’Connell, or (510) 339-3653.

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. See our guidelines.

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