Monday, April 23, 2007

we're meerkats

Here at Pittsburg State University we've adopted the meerkat as our unofficial mascot.


Because while individually we might not look very powerful, collectively we appear anonymous and imposing.

Yet, as with meerkats, when you look beyond anonymity and search within our community of tutors you can readily recognize individuals with idiosyncrasies, talents, faults, foibles and--let's face it: personality. When you look behind the meerkat-decorated badge, Dustin is different from Alicia is different from Wei-chieh is different from Audra is different from Krista is different from Nikki is different from David is different from Lin-ta is different from Adriane is different from Somdatta is different from Max is different from Gabriela is different from Stacy is different from Janelle is different from me.

In this way, The Writing Center and its tutors reflect and echo its Director, who--while embracing its bifurcated goal--focuses primarily on one prong of its two-tined mission. Where on the one goal we serve the Pittsburg State academic community, on the other, for nine of our tutors in the Spring of 2007, we serve as a preprofessional laboratory experience for BSE English majors and minors.

In keeping with our meerkat image, as a writing center director and instructor of language arts/English methodology who honed his craft for a half-dozen years in a bad-boy hood of Houston, Texas, I believe that personality is one of the two most important tools one can take into a middle or secondary school language arts or English classroom; the other is knowledge of subject matter. Thus, we meerkats welcome opportunities to work with writers worried about fundamental aspects (APA and MLA format, invention, organization, Standard Academic American English) of composition; it's valuable experience for those of us who desire to teach grades 6--12.

This is not to say that we exclude anyone from our community. Our tutors have fan clubs composed of members struggling with theses, sermons, reports, dissertations and essays to be submitted for conferences or publication. These fans range from freshmen to deans, some of whom demonstrate their appreciation with praise and cookies.

We like them all.

As always, I listen forward to hearing from you.

Until then, I hope this finds you and yours in good health and spirits.

John Franklin


Thursday, March 1, 2007

Profile: Newman University Writing Center

Kendra Perry, director

The Newman University Writing Center was started in 2004. It operates from the same facility as the math center and other peer tutoring services. This semester, we have a total of six undergraduate writing coaches; three of them are cross-trained in math and work on both "sides" of the center.

Due to recent international recruiting efforts, our campus is becoming increasingly internationalized. The writing center was originally opened with the idea of assisting second language writers cope with academic writing in English; however, we work with any writer who comes in the door. Though we do see a number of international undergraduates, we also work with writers ranging from traditional undergraduates to off-campus graduate students in our satellite programs.

We are currently open 41 hours per week for face-to-face consultations. During this time, students can schedule appointments or walk in and take their chances that someone will be available to help them. Through our eCoach service, we're also able to provide email feedback to students who can't make it to campus.

Together with the Math Center and peer tutoring services, we have developed a training program for all our tutors which was certified by the College Reading and Learning Association this fall. Tutors can complete three levels of certification and receive pay raises at each stage. This has been a tremendous help in providing accountability for ongoing professional development among our staff.

Being located on a small campus means that we face perpetual problems with finding qualified staff. With several of our seasoned veterans graduating this spring, I'm sure I'll spend a lot of time and effort recruiting new writing coaches. We don't have a large English department, so most of our coaches are from other majors and it's not always easy to find them! I'd love to hear suggestions for how you locate and recruit good peer tutor candidates, especially at smaller institutions.

Want to share a profile of your center? Email

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Welcome to the Kansas Writing Center Consortium

The writing center community is one of the most excitingly collaborative groups of people I've ever had the good fortune to work with. I hope that this consortium serves as a way for Kansas writing center directors and staff to connect, learn, and grow together.

Please contact me with ideas for consortium activities!

Kendra Perry
Newman University
3100 McCormick Ave.
Wichita, KS 67213
316-942-4291 x2235