Writing Ambassadors
New Writing Ambassadors Program

In fall 2000, composition program lecturer Pamela Major launched a new program to send Writing Ambassadors, future teachers enrolled in writing classes at UCD, into classrooms in nearby Woodland.  The Writing Ambassadors Program is part of a larger university commitment to improve opportunities for college preparation in California school districts.  UCD students receive training and hands-on experience; K-12 teachers receive workshops on teaching techniques and the help of student interns in the classroom; and public school students benefit from improved instruction and more individual attention.

The program is rooted in earlier informal collaborations between UCD writing faculty and K-12 teachers; for example,  Major?s advanced composition students worked on writing with high school biology students.

This year, Major received support from Chair Linda Morris, Dean Elizabeth Langland, the School University Partnership Program, and the CRESS Center to coordinate an ambitious outreach program. The program focuses on fostering writing across the disciplines in Woodland schools, where improved writing skills and academic encouragement could improve retention rates as well as students' ambitions to attend college.

Like many of the interns, Trish Gebhardt was already planning to teach when she learned about this program in an advanced writing class for future educators (English 104D).  A graduating senior, Gebhardt has been working at Lee Junior High School in Woodland since January, assisting in English, history and special needs classes.  After observing, tutoring, planning lessons, and working with small groups, Gebhardt now plans and teaches complete classes, such as a creative writing exercise inspired by 7-up and raisins and a class on poetry using modern music.

Gebhardt?s mentor, Felicia Samson (BA ?93, Credential ?97) rates this program as far superior to her own student field work.  Better trained with specific teaching strategies, Gebhardt was prepared to teach, instead of just observing.  ?Working with someone skilled,? Samson explained, ?I can get further in a class of thirty 7th graders.?  From workshops, such as Eric Schroeder?s talk on writing assignments using ads, Samson gained primarily ?affirmation that what I?m doing is right.?  On-site workshops for Math, history, Science, and English teachers also support the school?s emphasis on teaching reading and writing in all courses, Samson says.

All of the interns we interviewed found the students responsive, the teaching rewarding, and the experience enriching.  Having interned "to see if teaching was right for me," English major Tim Motley learned so much that he says the internship should be "a requirement for anyone getting a teaching Emphasis English degree.

The Ambassador Program's pilot year has exceeded expectations.  In 2000-2001, more than twelve UCD faculty, seventy partnership teachers, and fifty UCD undergraduates participated, affecting more than 800 K-12 students.  With renewed funding from the university, next year's program will involve more students from a wider range of advanced writing courses, more UCD faculty, and more teachers in more schools.

--Department of English ? UC Davis ? Spring 2001 ? page 5
Top: Felicia Samson; Middle: Pamela Major; Bottom:  Trish Gebhardt
Website Links
Supplemental Information
My Resume
My Homepage
My Info:
Name: Felicia Samson
Email: [email protected]
Hosted by www.Geocities.ws