Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 11:52am

The Writing Intensive Program in the department of English is providing a set of transformative experiences for young students this summer, where the tangible benefts of writing well become their own reward:

The students from Cleveland Road Elementary School wove tall tales of unicorns and beds that transform into sports cars when they visited UGA recently.

Their fantasies could have tangible benefits in years to come, said Madison Garrett, a UGA senior and an intern in the UGA Department of English Writing Intensive Program, who has been working with the fourth- and fifth-graders this year. 

"It's good for them to see writing isn't just something they do for assignments," Garrett said. "They can do it for fun. They see people older than them still enjoying it. It encourages them to keep going."

Seed grant funding from the Office of Service-Learning supported the students' trip to campus, where they ate lunch in the Founders Garden, joined a class of undergraduate students in a class led by Writing Intensive Program Director Lindsey Harding, and read Judith Cofer's "The Poet Upstairs" before launching into a set of writing exercises.

Harding has been working with the students, all of them enrolled in the Clarke County School District's English for Speakers of Other Languages program to help them prepare for their language proficiency assessment at the end of the school year.

Lori Garrett-Hatfield has taught most of the students since they entered Cleveland Road Elementary as kindergarteners. They have consistently struggled with writing, she says. And it's typically the last skill students acquire when learning a new language.

The WIP, long a stellar program for building crucial skills in students, is a capacity-multiplier for every discipline imaginable. There is no career in which writing well is not important. And because writing clearly is a product of thinking clearly, a host of disciplines - one might say the majority - hinge on that singular ability. And though critical thinking skills vary by individual, teaching them is another reason why the thread of excellence winds through the liberal arts. Great job, WIP, and wonderful coverage by our colleagues in Public Service and Outreach.