Month: January 2015

Reflections on CAPTA’s First Annual Directors’ Retreat

On Saturday, January 10, 2015, current and prospective directors of high school and community writing center programs gathered at Albemarle (Va) High School.  Twenty-one educators from four states (Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina) made the journey to Charlottesville to share their challenges, successes, and best practices.

The event was hosted by Hannah Baran of Albemarle High School and sponsored by the Capital Area Peer Tutoring Association.  CAPTA is a newly-formed non-profit organization whose mission is to “build community among secondary school writing and learning center directors, tutors, and partners; promote advocacy for peer-driven programs that transform schools by empowering student leaders; and support development and sharing of local resources for new and existing centers.”

Retreat attendees also heard a keynote from Dr. Pam Moran, Superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools.  Dr. Moran emphasized that writing centers can assist students in learning to communicate in a broad range of genres, from tweets to research papers.  She spoke of the positive impact she has seen “writing across the curriculum” and writing to learn programs have on student learning, independence, and creativity.  She also exhorted the directors to consider how their work exists at the intersection of communication and technology, sharing a quote from Troy Hicks, Director of the Chippewa Writing Project in Michigan and author of Crafting Digital Writing: “There is not a writer in our classrooms today who will not be producing something with a digital writing tool in her or his lifetime.”

The directors in attendance hailed from diverse educational settings including a private K-12 school, a small rural public school, an inner-city vocational school, and a program that sends university student tutors to high school classrooms.  Nevertheless, everyone walked away with new ideas for establishing or strengthening their programs.  Amber Jensen, founder of the writing center at Edison High School and president of CAPTA, said “I loved having the chance to connect with directors at so many different places in the process of creating a writing center. As a director of an established writing center, I was very energized by the momentum and ideas of those who are just at the beginning of the journey. I am very enthusiastic about what they bring to our community.”  Barbara Musselman of Broad Run High School agreed: “Great to catch the enthusiasm among the other writing center instructors! Each presenter had some concrete ideas that would be good to try at our school.”

For more information about this event and high school peer tutoring programs, please visit or contact Kate Gillen, CAPTA Communications Chair at or Hannah Baran at

CAPTA Writing Center Tutors Want YOU to Submit a Proposal to Present at MAWCA 2015!

Join CAPTA at the Mid-Atlantic Writing Center Assocation (MAWCA) 2015 Conference at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, from April 10-11, 2015. This year’s conference will focus on the idea of “sharing spaces,” and the keynote speaker will be Nathalie Singh-Corcoran of West Virginia University.

You can learn more about the MAWCA 2015 Conference and how to submit proposals for individual papers, panel presentations, and workshops here.

CAPTA’s veteran conference presenters want you to know why submitting a proposal and presenting at a conference is worth it:

The 2015 CAPTA Directors’ Retreat Agenda

Writing Center Directors:

Are you planning to join CAPTA for our first annual CAPTA Directors’ Retreat at Albemarle High School in Charlottesville, VA, this Saturday, January 10? If so, check out the agenda below!


8:30 – 10:00               Check-in, Light Breakfast, Meet & Greet in Library

Albemarle High School Tutors


8:45 – 9:45 Info Session for Prospective Directors

CAPTA Executive Board

♦What is a writing center and what are its benefits?

♦How do you go about starting a writing center?

♦What is CAPTA and how can it help you?

10:00 – 10:30            Welcome, Introductions, and Overview of the Day

Hannah Baran, Albemarle High School


10:30 – 11:20            Discussion #1: Working with Tutors

Related Topics:

♦Tutor recruitment and retention

♦Meaningful leadership positions & tutor mentorship

♦Professional development opportunities & conferences

♦Partnerships with local post-secondaries & organizations

♦Advanced Composition / Writing Center Tutor Training

◊Tutor training syllabus & materials

◊Differentiating for returning tutors

◊Training tutors when there is no course


11:30 – 12:20            Discussion #2: Working with Faculty & Staff

Related Topics:

♦Building relationships and collaborating with colleagues

♦Building relationships with administrators and central office

♦Spreading awareness and gaining support

♦Proposing a class


12:30 – 1:50               Keynote and Lunch

Dr. Pam Moran, ACPS Superintendent

Remarks and Discussion, followed by informal planning & collaboration time


1:50 – 2:40 Discussion #3: Working with the Student Body

Related Topics:

♦Advertising & special events

◊Leveraging social media

◊Fundraising ideas

♦Increasing *voluntary* student participation

♦Special populations (ESOL, Special Ed, AVID, AP/IB/DE)


2:50 – 3:40 Discussion #4: Working with Data

Related Topics:

♦Managing your class electronically

♦Distance / asynchronous tutoring

♦Digital reservations — is there an app for that?

♦Keeping records on center usage & client feedback

♦Making use of your usage & feedback data


3:40 – 4:30 Informal Planning & Collaboration Time

4:30 – 5:00 Conclusion & Wrap Up

Hannah Baran

Lingering questions, Take-aways, Next Steps, Exit Survey


5:00+                            Optional Dinner at a local restaurant

Registration is now open for the CAPTA 2015 Directors’ Retreat!

CAPTA is pleased to announce that our First Annual CAPTA Directors’ Retreat will take place on Saturday, January 10, 2015.

Our retreat will be hosted by CAPTA At-Large Board Member and Studio C Writing Center Director Hannah Baran and the Studio C tutors at Albemarle High School (2775 Hydraulic Rd. Charlottesville, VA 22901)

All members of the secondary schools writing center community are welcome, whether you have an established center, plans to start one, or an interest in learning more. The retreat is sponsored by CAPTA (the Capitol Area Peer Tutoring Association) and hosted by Hannah Baran, Board Member at Large.

Registration is free for all CAPTA members and Albemarle County educators.  Registration for all others is $25. Participants are urged to consider joining CAPTA<>; membership dues are only $35. Learn more about the benefits of membership here.

You can learn more about registration and the Directors’ Retreat agenda here.