High School Writing Centers and Writing Tutors

Around the nation an educational reform movement is stirring and students are at the center …  the Writing Center!  Below you will find many resources related to creating, sustaining, and expanding a high school writing center, including the Northern Virginia High School Writing Center Conference. 

Your first stop for information should be the Capital Area Peer Tutoring Association (CAPTA), http://captawritingcenters.org/.   If you are interested in starting a writing center or have resources to share please contact CAPTA.connects@gmail.com.  

Watch the Prezi, “An Introduction to High School Writing Centers” by Amber Jensen, NVWP TC and Director of the Edison High School Writing Center and current president of CAPTA, which she presented at the 2013 NCTE Annual Meeting in Boston.


Map of secondary school writing centers as of December 2013.

View America’s Middle and High School Writing Centers in a larger map

See reports from the 3rd Annual Secondary Schools Writing Center Conference by clicking here and watching the video below.

Northern Virginia Writing Centers Lead the Way On National Writing Project Radio Broadcast
On February 28, 2013, site leaders and writing center conference coordinators from the NVWP discussed the power of student-run writing centers with the National Writing Project on NWP Radio. The one-hour radio show, titled “Investing in Leadership: Student-Run Writing Centers,” features NVWP Director Paul Rogers and Teacher Consultants Amber Jensen and Allison Hughes as well as Beth Blankenship, Ellen Reilly, and student tutors from Edison, Centreville, and Oakton high schools. Jensen, Hughes, and Blankenship are high school writing center directors among the coordinators of the annual high school writing center conference from George Mason University, Fairfax County Public Schools, and the Northern Virginia Writing Project. Ellen Reilly, Principal of McLean High School, has overseen the development of several writing centers in Northern Virginia high schools.

You can listen to the program by clicking on the play button below:

Click here to read about the 2012 Northern Virginia High School Writing Center Conference. This second annual conference took place at George Mason University on October 12, 2012.

On October 29th, 2011 writing tutors representing writing centers from 11 Fairfax County Public High Schools gathered at George Mason University for the Northern Virginia High School Writing Tutors Conference. See video from the 2011 conference below. 


Getting it Off the Ground:  A Look at the Wildcat Writing Center’s Inaugural Year
By Alison Grace

In this article from the Journal of the Virginia Writing Project (2011, Vol 32. No. 1), Alison Grace describes the work and benefits that go along with creating a High School Writing Center. Drawing on her own experience and the knowledge of NVWP TCs, the article treats practical issues of managing space, scheduling, training and recruiting tutors, and operating a writing center effectively. She also provdies additional resources for those interested in starting their own writing center, including a short bibliography, and three essential forms: a writing center post-tutor session evaluation, a tutor log, and a student cover sheet.  ”The Writing Center isn’t a gimmick, it’s an institution we need to establish as a part of the culture of the school.”

 A Rich Online Resource for High School Writing Centers 
created by Jennie Tal Williams

This website hosted by the George Mason University Writing Center is both a compilation of research and resources aimed at encouraging and assisting in the creation of secondary school writing centers.

The Secondary School Writing Center: A Place to Build Confident, Competent Writers 
by Pamela B. Childers, Dawn Fels, and Jeanette Jordan

In the fall 2004 issue of Praxis (Vol. 2 Issue 1) three secondary school writing center veterans discuss how writing centers benefit student writers, tutors, and the school as a whole.

Launching a High School Writing Center 
By Peggy Silva

A behind-the-scenes look at how one high school developed a center that  promotes and celebrates student writing from the the Writing Center Journal: Praxis (Fall 2004, volume 2 Issue 1)    


The Successful High School Writing Center
Edited by Mason Writing Center Director Dawn Fels and Jennifer Wells

This book highlights the work of talented writing center teachers who share practices and lessons learned from today’s most important high school writing centers. The authors offer innovative methods for secondary educators who deal with adolescent literacy, English language learners, new literacies, embedded professional development, and differentiated instruction. The Successful High School Writing Center demonstrates how writing centers help school communities grapple with the realities that come with literacy education. Depicting real-life writing centers as leaders in literacy education, the accounts presented will enrich the work of secondary educators, writing tutors, and student writers in socially significant ways.


WCENTER: Writing Centers is the mailing list for writing centers around the world. To subscribe to WCENTER, contact Kathleen Gilli at kathleen.gillis@ttu.edu,

SSWC-L is a mailing list for secondary school writing center directors. To subscribe to SSWC-L send an email to listserv@lists.psu.edu with “subscribe SSWC-L your name” in the body of the message.