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Writers in the Schools

Empowering young people to discover and develop their authentic writing and performance voices.

The 2021/22 Middle & High School Year-End Reading

To mark the end of our 2021/22 Writers in the Schools residencies, middle and high school students from each of our WITS schools shared original works.

The 2021/22 Elementary & Middle School Year-End Reading

To mark the end of our 2021/22 Writers in the Schools residencies, elementary and middle school students from each of our WITS schools and Seattle Children’s Hospital shared original works.

The 2020/21 WITS Year‑End Digital Gallery

This gallery is a celebration of student voice and writing over the course of the 2020/21 school year.

The 2019/20 Year-End WITS Digital Gallery

We’re pleased to present this multi‑media gallery, which commemorates the time students spent writing and creating with WITS during the truncated 2019/20 school year.

"Poem" by Aisha Muse

Aisha Muse wrote this poem while a student at Dearborn Park International Elementary School with WITS Writer-in-Residence Samar Abulhassan. She read this poem to open our Literary Arts Series event with Abdulrazak Gurnah on September 20, 2022.

SAL’s Writers in the Schools (WITS) program connects professional writers with public school classrooms throughout the Puget Sound region to elevate the expressions of all students as they discover and develop their authentic writing and performance voices. Through WITS, students become authors of their own lives.


WITS Writers-in-Residence inspire a vibrant culture around writing for both students and teachers. Through working with professional, published creative writers, students are empowered to tell their own stories and given new tools to do so. By weaving the residencies into the school day, the program reaches students who might never elect to attend an after-school program in creative writing. We believe in bringing a racial equity lens to our work to increase access to the literary arts and opportunities for students throughout the city to be part of a collective conversation, fueled by a shared commitment and love for words.



  • Inspire students to engage in the writing process, build writing skills, and increase self-confidence.
  • Bring a race and equity lens to the teaching of creative writing with the goal of cultivating a sense of belonging for all, while centering students most impacted by structural racism.
  • Build a positive learning community that amplifies and celebrates student voices.
  • Support teachers and students by providing opportunities for meaningful connection with local writers

How WITS Works

Writers in the Schools works with each school to design a residency that meets that school’s particular learning outcomes, curriculum needs, and schedule. In a typical residency, the WITS Writer-in-Residence teaches three or four classes of students once or twice a week for an entire semester. Providing students with sustained, sequential learning allows them to engage with the full arc of the writing process: brainstorming, pre-writing, drafting, revising, publishing, and performing.

Each WITS Writer-in-Residence designs lesson plans based upon the curriculum, goals, and standards of the classroom teacher. Writers are responsible for preparing and teaching the lessons, commenting on student work, and planning a culminating project such as a reading or publication. Teachers are responsible for assisting the writer with overall planning, providing an understanding of the school’s culture, and managing the classroom. They are also invited and encouraged to participate fully in, and learn from, the lessons.

We are committed to designing our creative teaching within larger learning benchmarks such as the Essential Academic Learning Requirements, Grade Level Expectations, the Writers’ Workshop, and state assessments, such as the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL).


of teachers agree that WITS students are proud of their writing.


of students reported a growth mindset about the quality of their writing.

I teach a self-contained special-ed ELA class with many students who are disengaged with school and have strong aversions to anything school-related. Writing poetry gave them an outlet to express their feelings while expanding their writing skills in a creative way.

— WITS classroom teacher

9 out of 10

teachers report that their partnership with the WITS writers enhances their own teaching skills and practices.

[The best thing about WITS was] how free you were writing a poem—it relaxed me and I love WITS. I would love to continue next year.

— Younger Youth Participant

2 out of 3 youth

report that the writing skills they gained in WITS will be useful in the future.

[My favorite part of WITS was] presenting my work at the end. I felt confident in my poem and my writing so I faced my fear of public speaking. It ended up being fun and gave me a boost of confidence.

— Older Youth Participant

[The best thing about WITS was] that when you write a poem it feels like you are leaving your desk when really you are not.

— Younger Youth Participant

If you can’t think of anything to write down, write down what you’re thinking.

— WITS Digital Youth Participant

Survey results show that WITS improves students’ writing skills, invigorates the teaching of writing, and develops a growth mindset.

Ways to Get Involved

For Teachers and Principals

To discuss how WITS might work at your school or how to go about bringing WITS there, please contact [email protected]. We are also available to travel to your school to talk one-on-one with you or to make a larger presentation to a group of interested teachers and administrators.

For Parents

If you are interested in bringing WITS to your child’s school, please contact [email protected] to discuss the possibilities. We encourage you to bring your children to our annual public events: our WITS Year-End Readings in the spring and the WITS Anthology Launch in fall.

For Students

Love WITS and want to be involved in keeping it great? Email us at [email protected] to learn about opportunities for current or former WITS students.

Internships with WITS

Internship opportunities are currently closed while we’re working virtually. We look forward to opening intern positions once again when we’re back in the SAL office!

Seattle Youth Poetry Fellowship

Founded in 2015, the Youth Poetry Fellowship (YPF) program gives a platform to youth who care deeply about literary arts as a tool for civic engagement and change. Learn more about the program here.


For Community Members

  • Donate supplies. Composition books, pocket folders, art supplies, spaces and treats for our WITS Writer meetings, cupcakes for our author celebrations, goodies for the gift bags that honor our young writers at Year-End Readings, audio/visual services, in-kind printing, and beyond are welcome. The list goes on!
  • Spread the word. Speak about WITS to your friends who are teachers, who are parents, who are writers, who work at newspapers and magazines, who are supporters of the literary arts, and who are supporters of education. Tell them you support this program and that you’d like them to support it, too, in whatever way they can.
  • Come to events. Your ticket to a SAL event helps support the education program, and your presence at WITS readings expands the audience and community for our young writers. All WITS and Youth Poet Laureate readings are free and open to the public!
  • Make a tax-deductible donation. Your generosity helps WITS keep the program going strong, allows for more subsidies to high-needs schools, and allows us to pay the incredible working writers who teach in WITS classrooms. Click here to donate today.
  • Email [email protected] for more information on how to get involved.

For Writers

Applications to join the WITS Writers-in-Residence corps are open now.

For writers, the WITS program includes:

  • Placement in a public Puget Sound K-12 school for an extended, paid creative writing residency.
  • Professional development throughout the year, including quarterly meetings with WITS peers, mentorship for new WITS Writers, and racial equity training.
  • Inclusion in the Local Voices reading series, a reading by WITS Writers held four times a year, publicized by Seattle Arts & Lectures.
  • Free tickets to all SAL events throughout the season.


May Your Wonder Be Your Map

Order the 2021/22 WITS Anthology


Samar Abulhassan

B.F. Day Elementary School, Dearborn Park Elementary School, Laurelhurst Elementary School, Seattle World School, Blue Heron School, Washington Middle School

Meredith Arena

Lopez Island High School

Sara Brickman

Hamilton International Middle School, TOPS K-8 School

Brian Dang

Evergreen High School, Hamilton International Middle School, Leschi Elementary School, Washington Middle School

Cassidy Dyce

Orca K-8, Washington Middle School

Karen Finneyfrock

Blue Heron School, TOPS K-8 School, Lowell Elementary School

Kathleen Flenniken

Salish Coast Elementary School

Laura Gamache

Blue Heron School

Matt Gano

Renaissance School of Art & Reasoning

Amy Hirayama

Alan T. Sugiyama High School, Evergreen High School, Nathan Hale High School

Rachel Kessler

Ballard High School, Seattle World School

David Lasky

Brookside Elementary SchoolRenaissance School of Art and Reasoning, Seattle World School

Corinne Manning

The Center School, Lopez Island Middle School

Magda Manning

Catherine Blaine k-8, Lopez Island Elementary School

Sierra Nelson

Hamilton International Middle School, Seattle Children's

Matt Nienow

Port Townsend High School

Clara Olivo

Franklin High School

Putsata Reang

Highline Big Picture High School

Greg Stump

McClure Middle School

Ann Teplick

Seattle Children's

Jay Thompson

Lafayette Elementary School, McClure Middle School, Nathan Hale High School, Roosevelt High School

Acca Warren

Nathan Hale High School

Daemond Arrindell

Evergreen High School, Seattle World School, South Lake High School, Washington Middle School

Naa Akua

Franklin High School

Raúl Sánchez

Evergreen High School

Arlene Naganawa

TOPS K-8 School

Arianne True

Youth Poet Laureate Mentor

Gary Copeland Lilley

Port Townsend High School

Evelin Garcia

Puesta del Sol Elementary School

Jourdan Keith

WITS Writer

Jeanine Walker

Leschi Elementary School