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Writers in the Schools

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

The 2022/23 Elementary & Middle School Year-End Reading

The 2022/23 Middle & High School Year-End Reading

"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.

Writers in the Schools (WITS) 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 support both students and teachers in building a vibrant literary culture within their classrooms. By weaving residencies into the school day, the program reaches students who might never elect to attend a creating writing program outside of school hours.



  • 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).

WITS Rewritten

WITS Rewritten is a pilot program that provides WITS at no cost to K-12 public schools that serve students furthest from educational justice due to systemic racial and socio-economic inequities. WITS Rewritten will center these students and bring literary arts engagement opportunities into their classrooms. In its inaugural year, WITS Rewritten is partnering with Wing Luke Elementary School, Denny International Middle School, and Rainier Beach High School in the Seattle Public School District.

Learn more about WITS Rewritten


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

[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

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 wits@lectures.org. 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 wits@lectures.org to discuss the possibilities. We encourage you to bring your children to our annual public events: our WITS Year-End Readings and the Youth Poet Laureate’s Book Launch.

For Students

Love WITS and want to be involved in keeping it great? Email us at wits@lectures.org to learn about opportunities for current or former WITS students.

Internships with WITS

Internship opportunities are currently closed and will open in Spring ’24!

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 wits@lectures.org for more information on how to get involved.

For Writers

Applications to join the 2023-24 WITS Writers-in-Residence corps are now closed and we will accept applications for the 2024-25 WITS writers cohort next summer

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 Murmurations 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.


The Love Which Comes from Our Birth

Order the 2022/23 WITS Anthology


Samar Abulhassan

Dearborn Park Elementary, Wing Luke Elementary, Seattle World School, Laurelhurst Elementary, B.F. Day Elementary

Sara Brickman

TOPS K-8, Hamilton Middle School, Maritime High School

Cassidy Dyce

Orca K-8, Cleveland High School

Karen Finneyfrock

Blue Heron Middle School, Hamilton Middle School, Nathan Hale High School, Washington Middle School

Monique Franklin

Rainier Beach High School, Washington Middle School, Mercer Middle School

Amy Hirayama

Denny Middle School, Evergreen High School, Nathan Hale High School, Mercer Middle School

Rachel Kessler

Ballard High School, Renaissance School of Art and Reasoning, Maritime High School

David Lasky

Brookside Elementary, West Woodland Elementary, Seattle World School, McClure Middle School

Vivian Li

Leschi Elementary, Renaissance School of Art and Reasoning

Corinne Manning

The Center School, Lopez Island Middle School

Cypress Manning

Lopez Elementary School, Catharine Blaine K-8, Nova High School

Sierra Nelson

Hamilton International Middle School, Seattle Children's Hospital

Nhatt Nichols

Blue Heron Middle

Clara Olivo

Franklin High School

Putsata Reang

Highline Big Picture High School, Seattle World School,

Ricardo Ruiz

Lopez High School, Mercer Middle School

Ann Teplick

Seattle Children's Hospital

Jay Thompson

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

Acca Warren

Washington Middle School, Mercer Middle School