826 Valencia Portfolio Workshops by Frances Saux

This fall, in an attempt to offer extra support to CW applicants, especially students who don’t typically have creative writing classes in their middle schools, we partnered with 826 Valencia to help eighth graders develop the lengthy portfolio needed for their application. We held two tutoring sessions at the Valencia Street location, as well as a more formal Saturday class on SOTA’s campus. In both events, CW students taught and tutored the applicants, creating a meaningful bridge between middle and high school students.

The program was deemed a success by the participants, the student teachers, and by Maia and Molly (the program coordinator at 826). As one of the teachers, I felt the students understand my feedback and saw them able to incorporate it into their work by the end of each tutoring session. Though the eighth graders were shy at first, they warmed up and connected to us over the course of each session. That week, over 22 applicants showed up to work on their admission portfolios, and we paired them with current creative writing students, who gave them helpful tips and criticism. The Saturday workshop was also fun and productive; despite it being the first teaching experience for many of the CW student teachers, the lessons were clear and useful, and the participants contributed frequently, asking questions and engaging with each topic.  

This program is valuable because it gives us visibility in the middle school communities, and hopefully makes the application process more accessible to a greater range of students. Also, it gives current students an opportunity to use what they have learned during their time at SOTA to teach less experienced writers, which is both rewarding and instructive in itself.

For any applicants who missed the first round of auditions, or who were not accepted and would like to re-audition, Creative Writing will be holding another series of tutoring days before the second portfolio due date. Drop by 826 Valencia between 6 and 8 p.m. on February 4th or February 6th, (or both), and bring your works in progress.


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