Abilene Independent School District, with the help of ACU, created a writing center for Abilene High students.
Cole Bennett, associate professor of language and literature, worked with the students to train them on strategies, methodology and reporting for the Eagle Writing Center.
“It’s really because we believe in helping the community, and we wanted to help the local school system have a place to help students write better,” Bennet said. “That’s what we’re all trying to do, is get the students to get better.”
The initiative started with James McGee, a full-time teacher with AISD and student in the master of arts degree in English program at ACU, after finding inspiration his class’ research on writing centers. With funding from admissions and marketing, as well as collaboration with the Department of Language and Literature and ACU Writing Center, he took the high school’s idea and made it a reality.
With the adoption of a “writing across the curriculum” model, AH will recognize the importance of written communication in all aspects of education. Therefore, the writing center is not just for students’ help with the English courses, but to improve their writing skill throughout their classes. AH’s hope is that the increased help with writing, which is considered to be the highest level of cognitive process, will also benefit student articulation in classes anywhere from biology to economics.
Kevin Campbell, chief enrollment officer at ACU, helped to accumulate funds in order to make the room less of a classroom and more of a writing center.
“When we look at the skills that employers seek in college graduates, one of the top skills employers seek is strong written communication,” Campbell said. “We hope the Eagle Writing Center will strengthen the writing ability of Abilene High students and enable them to see the important roll that strong written communication skills will have on their future.”
10 to 12 students will be peer-mentoring those who need help in the writing center. The students are enrolled in a class called “Writing Center Tutoring” where McGee meets with the student to figure out problems, discuss new strategies of tutoring and talk about what they’re doing so they’ll continue to grow as tutors.
The Eagle Writing Center will remain open to the high school students from their zero period to seventh period, with an extension to 5 p.m. on Thursdays.
“Its really exciting when a high school decides to allow, in its infrastructure, a place for students to learn to write better,” Bennett said. “I’m happy for James and happy that he’s one of our students who got the fire lit under him to make a difference in AISD.”
Campbell said there is no formal way for ACU students to get involved at this point. Though there are potential opportunities for ACU students to volunteer, the developments for them are not yet underway.