The Advanced Writers Program
The Gifted Young Writer
Young people who demonstrate advanced writing potential often experience a love of ideas, reading and writing that stands out from their peers. They can be passionate, insightful and sensitive. Unfortunately, they often suffer from under-stimulation in their school environments. This kind of under-stimulation can have detrimental long-term effects, including frustration, a sense of aloneness and isolation, doubts about self-worth, and — perhaps most detrimental of all — never coming to see what is really possible for themselves.
Why don’t most schools nurture bright young writers to their full potential? Schools teach to the norm and simply do not have the resources to, or even more likely, do not know how to, nurture this kind of child.
But with the right kind of stimulation and teaching, your child could have…
- a rooted sense of themselves as a writer that will last a lifetime
- a huge sense of confidence and accomplishment
- the skill and enthusiasm to live richly in the world of ideas
- a unique completed project that makes them stand out among their peers
The Savvy Young Writers Advanced Writers Program
The Advanced Writers Program is a one-on-one tutelage program for young writers with high potential.
What it covers:
- Students learn skills in writing technique, the writing process, creativity management.
- Students are introduced to classic works and learn about the lives of other writers, past and present, to discover that they have a place within a “community of writers.”
- At the end of the program students walk away with a finished work or portfolio of work which they can have for themselves forever, or, if they wish, they can choose to be guided through the process of self-publication.
The program accomplishes this through two phases.
1) The 3-month Foundation: The Life of a Writer Toolbox
What does it mean to be an avid reader and writer? How can you manage creative spurts when they come, and pull them out of their hiding places when they are hard to find? How can you calm down self-criticism? What have other authors said about the writing process?
This is the foundation on “the writing life” that gifted writers rarely receive in school.
2) The 9-Month “Studio Project”
From this foundation students launch into the writing process on a focused project. The project type a student wants to do usually becomes clear to them during the foundational phase. Students in the past have written poetry portfolios, published chapter “books” online through a blog we set up together (lots of fun!), or self-published a book.
We use this project to study technique, writing development, word choice, flow, mechanics, and style. Students also learn about how the writing process pieces that we covered in the Foundation phase emerge in their own writing. They also continue to read and learn from the works of other writers and tie this back to their own writing.
The sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a project like this is tremendous. Though the whole program builds skills and confidence, the experience of completing this project solidifies a student’s confidence and sense of self as a writer. We have a party to celebrate! Students invite whomever in their lives they wish to thank for helping them achieve their accomplishment.
The Advanced Writer’s Program helps students develop skills that extends their ability, connects them to the larger context of life as a writer, and gives them a concrete experience of their expressive potential.
What Parents Have Said…
“I am so amazed at the intellectual transformation you have guided our son through. The other day he mentioned how lucky he was to have such a fantastic teacher for English. I asked him, ‘What is her name again?’ as it has been ages since Back to School night. He replied, ‘You know, it’s Sam.”
– Mother of student at Terman Middle School, Palo Alto
“Sam is a master of compassion and rigor. It’s an impressive combination.”
– Parent of an extremely creative daughter in Portland, OR
“You have been our son’s tutor, mentor and friend. That’s a relationship that’s hard to come by.”
-Mother of a student at Gunn High School
“So far, your class with our daughter is the only academic class she has that she seems to enjoy going to. It’s amazing.”
-Parent of a student at Harker
“Working with you has made such a huge difference in our son’s writing level this year. And I so appreciate the guidance you give him as a mentor.”
-Mother of middle school student at Terman Middle School
Program Details and Logistics
The program provides:
- approximately 36 one-on-one student sessions (1 hour each) over 12 months. This turns into a “generally weekly” meeting, with allowances for school vacations, etc.
- All of the necessary planning and preparation to craft lessons that are individualized to your child (usually 1-2 hours “behind the scenes” per lesson)
- 3 one-hour consultations with parents/guardians. Your support of your child is a big part of the process, so we meet at regular intervals to touch basis about how the process is going.
- Log sheets documenting our work each session
I offer a special version of this program for teenagers. If you are looking for resources for your teenage son or daughter, contact me for more information.
Savvy Young Writers has recently moved. I formally taught from my home office in the Willows neighborhood in Menlo Park. Now I meet students at the new Savvy Young Writers office in downtown Palo Alto (665 Lytton Avenue).
The marvels of technology make make this work accessible through online media (Skype, Google Docs, and Evernote). I have lessons with about half of my students in this way, whether they are half-way around the world or just a few miles away and want to avoid commuter traffic.
How is this work different from a tutoring model?
This program is a much more comprehensive service than what face-time-only tutoring services provide. In addition to lesson preparation, outside of any given hour with your child, I may consult with other specialists in my network about your child (I work with specialists in college counseling, testing, LD and gifted education), read up on your child’s subject interests to find great material for them, scout various bookstores to find just the right translation of a certain classic text that will spark your child’s learning — etc, etc, etc!
This level of dedication and service is what makes this program transformative for students and families.
A Tremendous Parent Community
Savvy Young Writers is surrounded by a parent community in the heart of Silicon Valley that cherishes providing their children with educations that nurture both their inner and outer success, recognizing that when learning encompasses both, profound educational outcomes occur. This parent community has fostered my ability to teach writing to students at the highest level. I am deeply grateful for this community’s tremendous care.
It has been a privilege to work with these families for over fifteen years, often stewarding multiple siblings in a single family through a years-long relationship that can last into adulthood (one of my former students, now in her mid-20s, has even recently come back to work for Savvy Young Writers as my research assistant, among other roles, for the book I am writing). Over time, through the grace of technology my practice has grown across continents, from Geneva to Beijing. I am moved by every student I teach, and also by every parent who walks through my door.
My journey building Savvy Young Writers has been very dear to me.
Unfortunately, my practice has now grown to the point where I cannot serve all of the parents who contact me. I simply receive too many inquiries. Because of my small number of students and the cost of living in Silicon Valley, my fees are significant. To work with me over the course of a year requires an investment similar to that of a private school education. I recognize that I am not affordable to many families. I wish that I could be.
When you contact me to inquire about services, my assistant will send you an informational packet about the Empowered Writer Program that will give you more information about its philosophy and structure, as well as its fees, so that you can assess whether you think it will suit you and your family. If this program is not a financial fit, you are welcome to reach out to me for other referrals and/or resources that you may wish to investigate.
Each year, I provide lessons to one family at a reduced fee as part of my Scholarship Program. I currently do not have an opening for this and it may be some time for one to arise since this work is long-term and the spot is currently filled. However, you are welcome to contact me to inquire about future availability.
Will You Be Hiring Others to Make This Work More Accessible?
As my wait lists have grown, people have asked me whether I plan to grow this work, training others to carry it out to be able to serve more students. Because I aspire to expose students to higher levels of skill than most secondary schools teach, many of the methods I use fall outside of standard secondary teaching pedagogical practices and require significant professional development both as an educator and a writer to be able to teach. I’ve begun putting pieces into place to provide training for educators interested in delivering this standard of teaching, a project that will take me several years. For now, I will continue to teach as many students as I can through my individual client practice.
Thank you for your interest in promoting your child’s development as a writer. It is a gift that will serve them their entire lives. Whether or not we work together, I will appreciate hearing from you and supporting you as best I can.
To inquire about pricing, availability, and/or to get on the wait list, please fill out my contact form. I will read what you write carefully and I or my assistant will respond to you within a week.