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Writing at Loomis Chaffee

The Process and the Product

Decade after decade, Loomis Chaffee graduates find that their writing skills far exceed those of many of their peers, no matter what major and career they pursue. With a longstanding emphasis on superior writing, Loomis Chaffee teaches students not only how to write well, but also how to understand the science of good writing. Our English Department faculty lead these efforts with a four-year writing program, the heart of which is the Writing Workshop, which meets once a week throughout the sophomore year.

The emphasis on good writing extends well beyond our English instruction: in the sciences, students learn to formulate cogent lab reports; in history classes, they write extensive research papers; in social sciences, foreign language sections, and philosophy, psychology, and religious studies, they compose papers, personal reflections, and narratives. Over the course of their LC careers, our students develop essential writing competencies across the curriculum.

Meet the Director

Since her fresh-out-of-college arrival on the Island in 1981, Sally has taught English, coached boys cross country and distance track, and served as dorm resident or affiliate. In her tenure, she has taught classes at the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior levels, including senior electives in Creative Writing, Journalism, Contemporary Literature, Shakespeare, Short Story, and Satire; and in the interdisciplinary course Desegregation & Democracy in South Africa. While on academic exchange with Scotch College in Melbourne, Australia, she taught year-long courses in writing and Australian and British literature to both middle and upper school boys.

In addition to directing the Writing Initiatives program, Sally, a student-council-selected Teacher of the Year, currently teaches the year-long CL Advanced Junior English Seminar class and heads the recently-launched Writing Studio. Sally’s most recent on-going education has come by way of Bard College’s Institute for Writing and Thinking. Earning both her BA (in English) and her MALS from Wesleyan University, Sally also holds a degree in counseling from St. Joseph University.

Sally’s early education came in classrooms in the United States and the South Pacific, at a Quaker Friends kindergarten in Swarthmore, PA; a public elementary school in sub-urban Germantown, PA; a city primary school in Suva, Fiji; a progressive middle school in Laguna Beach, CA; and at British-influenced grammar and high schools in Nuku’alofa, Tonga. She matriculated with National Honor Society and Experienced-Based Career Education certificates from Portland High School in Portland, CT.

Sally and husband Peter are proud parents of Loomis Chaffee graduates Miles ’10 and Tate ’14.

Writing Initiatives Associates

The LC Writing Studio

The LC Writing Studio offers inspiration and support for LC writers — students and faculty alike — across the curriculum as they work to communicate their ideas, arguments, discoveries, and voices. Believing that engaging an audience of readers during the writing process promotes “skilled and discerning minds,” the trained staff members of the Writing Studio offer non-evaluative feedback and guidance to writers in any stage of work. Staff members support writers as they craft works that evince not only robust writing skills, but also robust thinking skills. The Writing Studio staff serve not in lieu of, but in addition to, students’ own teachers as resources, with the students setting their agendas for their Studio sessions, and holding sole command of the pen.

Agenda items might include, but are not limited to, the generating of ideas, sharing of drafts, expansion of critical thinking, and review of relevant writing skills.

Emerging Writers

Launched by the LC Writing Initiative, the Island’s Creative Writing & Arts publication the Loom, and the Katherine Brush Library’s spoken-word “Out Loud” group, and complementing the Emerging Artists program, the Emerging Writers Program invites passionate writers of all inspirations to submit proposals for independent development of writing portfolios.

Students determine the genres, lengths, and formatting of their works, with portfolio pieces ranging from opening chapters of novels, to collections of haiku, to short stories, to one-act-play scripts, to assorted character sketches, to op-ed pieces, to personal essays, and to myriad other forms.

Writers whose proposals are selected work on their pieces independently and in conference with one another over the summer, then submit their portfolios in September for jurying and exhibition. Portfolio submissions may include pieces written for summer writing camps and programs.

Last year, sixteen students completed and submitted portfolios and had works selected for joint Emerging Artists/Emerging Writers exhibition in the Richmond Art Center, with many also invited by the jury to submit their works to the National Scholastic Art & Writing competition.

For further information, please contact:

Sally Knight: sally_knight@loomis.org
Kate Saxton: kate_saxton@loomis.org
Sarah Zimmermann: sarah_zimmermann@loomis.org

View excerpts from the 2016 Emerging Writers Exhibit


Writing News

Andre Dubus III English Colloquium Speaker April 20

Author Andre Dubus III, whose books include the bestseller House of Sand and Fog, will be the English Colloquium speaker on Thursday, April 20, at 7:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend the evening lecture and admission is free of charge.

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