Writing Center opens to public on Saturdays

Posted by Zoe Dartley

As many have heard, the Lucy Scribner Library's Writing Center is now open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to1 p.m. The Center's services are catered towards middle and high school students struggling with writing assignments.

Student coordinator Emma Caruso '13, who became head of the pilot project after a summer of volunteering for the Center, shared details on the project.

"As Skidmore is a huge part of the Saratoga Springs community, I don't think there's a limit to how much we should give back to the town that opens the doors of their restaurants, businesses, and establishments to us," Caruso said. "If we have the skills to offer, then I think it only makes sense to offer those skills in every capacity possible."

Caruso said she felt confident that the Center's skilled tutors will be able to proficiently handle the influx of new people.

"We have an incredibly skilled team of tutors that have all undergone a rigorous training class to prepare to tutor fellow college students and are very energetic about helping writers at any point in the writing process," she said.

Writing Center Director Phil Boschoff explained that this program stemmed from his desire to benefit both the youth of Saratoga, as well as the student tutors he worked with.

"I wanted to provide an opportunity for tutors to have more to put on their resume than working just with college-aged students," Boschoff said.

According to Boschoff, programs such as this have been suggested in the past, but it was not until recently that the opportunity to do so became plausible.

"We've had queries from the community before and I just haven't found that we have the space," Boschoff said. "We have a very beautiful, big space now, in a very sufficient place. We have the sufficient strength in numbers with tutors where we can offer this to the community without having any effect on our main responsibility. I felt that the time was right, the inclination of the students was right, to do this."

While the Center's tutors don't need any new training, working with middle and high school students does require a different perspective as their material is based around the fundamental basics of writing, rather than the more advanced writing exhibited by college students. Caruso said she has found that working with such concepts has been beneficial to the tutors as well.

"It's so fun to work at that basic level again, and it helps me too. Sometimes we're working on such sophisticated things [at college], that it's hard to get back to those basics again," Caruso said. "But then this eighth grader I was working with asked me if I could make his handwriting neater and I was like, 'I don't know those skills!' It really puts things into perspective."

Caruso said she has high hopes that students will eventually flock to the Center from areas outside the Saratoga community. While she has contacted both private and public middle and high schools in Saratoga and the Ballston Spa area, she has plans to reach out to schools in the greater area if the project continues to succeed. She is currently in the process of working with the schools to figure out the best way to advertise the project.

There has been discussion of sending letters home to families of students, as well as talk of using certain Skidmore media outlets available through the Communications Department, according to Caruso.

"It has taken longer than I expected to hear back from schools or programs that would be interested in working together on this project," Caruso said, "but a pilot program must always overcome the obstacles and pitfalls of creating something new, raising awareness and attracting interest, so I have been patient but persistent in making this idea a reality." The Writing Center is open to Skidmore students 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays, and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

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