Writers in the Schools, Winter 2023
By: Dr. Kelly Krumrie, Department of English & Literary Arts
In October, I attended the Conference on Community Writing held at the University of Denver thanks to funding from CCESL. I was able to attend sessions on various programs and practices—from avant-garde creative writing pedagogy to community literacy practices in the U.S. South—in order to inform the community-engaged work I began last year in the Department of English & Literary Arts.
There, I relaunched a dormant Writers in the Schools Program, which I presented on alongside DU Writing Program faculty who run similar programs: a WRIT class that works with elementary school students on literacy and a volunteer and University Writing Center group that offers consultations at The Gathering Place, a day shelter for women, children, and transgender people experiencing poverty or homelessness. We held a roundtable titled “Imagining Radical Sustainability: Renewing Long-term Community Partnerships Post-COVID.” Each panelist shared their experience running a community-engaged program that was disrupted by the pandemic, focusing on, and asking questions about, how to maintain community partnerships. What followed was a rich conversation among panelists and attendees about communication challenges and consistency as well as the unpredictability of institutional support on both ends. We also discussed the relationship between community-engaged and Writing Center practices and how they can inform one another. We had a robust conversation about the unique position of the community college as well.
One key takeaway across participants was the necessity of living and accessible archives for both community and university partners: that a good way to adapt to the ever-changing nature of this work is to simply keep up a log. This way, we can pass knowledge on—from partner to partner or faculty leader to faculty leader. We know that record-keeping can be laborious and of lower priority, so we chatted about methods for doing the work.
Through additional CCESL funding I received last year, I was able to build a record of materials for Writers in the Schools, and I shared the processes for and effects of that work with the roundtable participants.