Writing Center and SEED D.C. partner for tutoring program

October 16, 2015

Photo courtesy Cedric Burks

Photo courtesy Cedric Burks

This Wednesday began a new partnership between Georgetown and the SEED School of Washington D.C. as eight students of the tuition-free college preparatory boarding school started tutoring sessions at the Georgetown University Writing Center.

This comes after a kickoff event Oct. 7, where four tutors and eight students met at the Ward 7 charter school to discuss how the program will benefit them as students and as writers. “Students and tutors were able to mingle, get to know each other, and discuss their strengths and weaknesses as writers,” Coordinator of Academic Intervention and Student Development Services Cedric Burks of SEED D.C. wrote in an email to the Voice.

According to Burks, students already expressed satisfaction in the first session as tutors helped students work on class work and college essays. “Our SEED scholars were ecstatic to have the opportunity and worked diligently during their first sessions to improve their writing,” he wrote.

“This is a great organization, and they do amazing work,” said David Lipscomb, director of the Writing Center. “In some way, it’s like the idea of taking Andover or Exeter and just putting it into underserved areas.”

Just as the students are excited about the opportunity to be mentored at Georgetown, the tutors also appreciate the opportunity to mentor them, according to Alexis Larios (COL ‘18), a tutor who works with two of the SEED students on all stages of the writing process.

“They have clear goals for themselves and know where they need to improve,” she wrote in an email to the Voice. “Meeting them last week, we got to answer a lot of questions about ourselves, the college process, writing, and everything in between.”

According to Lipscomb, the program will expand the role of the Writing Center to make an impact in the community and provide an opportunity to develop talent among its tutors. “At Georgetown, that very much sees education as existing in the community as well as on campus, this is a great opportunity for the students to learn,” he said. “We’re doing our best to give our tutors all sorts of opportunities to make a difference as tutors, and to learn what it’s like to work with people from a variety of backgrounds.”

Photo courtesy Cedric Burks

The partnership was made possible by a donation from a member the SEED Foundation’s Board of Directors, according to Anthony Francavilla (COL ‘10), Major Gifts Officer at the SEED Foundation and a former Writing Center tutor. [Full Disclosure: Francavilla is a former Voice staffer.] The foundation supports and oversees the three SEED schools in  D.C., Maryland, and South Florida.

As a former Georgetown Writing Center tutor himself, Francavilla saw potential for a partnership with Georgetown when he first discovered SEED D.C.’s own writing center. “The added benefit of frequent, consistent exposure to current college students will be great for our students,” he wrote in an email to the Voice. “In a year, they will have to be college-level writers themselves and we all know how different college writing expectations are from high school so why not get a head start?”

“The greatest writers in the world get coaching,” said Lipscomb. “Our job [at the Writing Center] is always to help the writer reflect on his or her own writing process, and to make visible and audible that writing process so they can improve their own work. The idea, as in any good teaching, is to make ourselves obsolete.”

This program is the Writing Center’s second community outreach initiative. The first, the Professional Writing Center, launched last year, and it tutors professionals in nonprofit workplaces at companies such as Share Our Strength.

Larios looks forward to helping her students become better thinkers and writers. “This is a great and unique opportunity for us at the Writing Center to live up to the Jesuit value of being women and men for others, not just for our fellow students but outside of the Georgetown community.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect Anthony Francavilla’s current job title at time of publication.

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