Writers in Schools

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at Cardozo Education Campus

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at Cardozo Education Campus

Writers in Schools is our oldest education program. Starting with one teacher in one school in 1989, for thirty years we have provided high-quality, dynamic opportunities that personalize literary expression by connection writers and students directly in conversation.

After a Writers in Schools visit to their classroom, 74% of students indicated they were more willing than before a classroom visit to engage in future literary activities. And 100% of our partner educators said they would participate in our program again.

If you’re a DC educator in grades 3-12 interested in working with Writers in Schools, we’d love to hear from you! We also work with community organizations that include the DC Jail and non-traditional adult learning centers. Please contact us at wins@penfaulkner.org to learn more or to request our current list of available writers.

What Our Partner Educators Say

“WOW! What an amazing visit and experience. A student who attended came to me this morning and asked, ‘Can we write a book Mr. Stewart?’ My response [was] you can do anything you put your mind and heart to… We thank and appreciate the amazing authors… for this beautiful opportunity for young people to write their truth, tell their truth, and empower others to do the same.” – Christopher, Educator at Columbia Heights Education Campus

“I could not do the high-quality, crucial literacy work I do without your organization.” – Sarah, Educator at McKinley Tech High School

“He is one of our toughest kids. He is in fights constantly. I have never seen this side of him, sharing his personal story to you.” – Ms. M, Educator at Henley Elementary School to author Samantha Thornhill


What Our Students Say

“If I wanted to create stories like you do, how would I do that?” – Denise, a student at McKinley Tech High School to author ZZ Packer

This book “really touched me because I am going through that situation [of dealing with family who are incarcerated] right now and [this] makes me want to get back into school.” – Terrell, a student in an adult education center to authors from the Free Minds Book Club


What Our Authors Say

“Remarkable. The students were incredibly engaging (and engaged), they’d all done the reading, asked interesting and insightful questions. I left genuinely feeling better about the people who’ll be running the world (if we don’t destroy it first).” – Michael Cunningham, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and Pulitzer Prize, about his WinS visit  


RECENT VISITS OF NOTE Through his story of growing up in DC in Slugg: A Boy’s Life in the Age of Mass Incarceration, Tony Lewis Jr. intimately depicts the struggles and trauma of having a parent incarcerated while the other parent deals with mental illness and financial instability.

Cristin Terrill’s dark sci-fi and fantasy YA fiction leads students to contemplate “what if?” questions that are both fantastical and occasionally uncomfortable. Terrill’s willingness to talk the process of writing messy first drafts makes her visits engaging.

In his nonfiction work about Black comic book characters, author and WinS educator William Jones connects with stories of authorship, identity, and empowerment.

In a joint session, poets and lifelong friends Derrick Weston Brown and Alan King discuss what it’s like to a poet when everyone hates poetry, and how they work together in a creative community to inspire each other.