Director of the Center for Academic writing engages one on one with student

The Center for Academic Writing

Joan Didion says it well: “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking.”

At Morristown-Beard School, we want each student to discover first-hand the truth of this statement. Whether it’s a persuasive speech about climate change, an analysis of Iago’s motivations in deceiving his friend Othello, or an explanation of how a mathematic formula illustrates what happens when we spill our coffee, writing becomes a means of understanding information, recognizing surprising relationships, and developing ideas about these observations.

The Center for Academic Writing offers students a space in which to explore their ideas and discover the ways language empowers them to think and communicate. The term “space” refers to both the physical location of the center and the (less tangible) collaborative atmosphere that is so essential for taking risks and processing new information. Located next to the library in Grant Hall, the physical space of the Center invites students to relax in beanbag chairs or join others working at round tables. The words of writers from a number of disciplines – business, mathematics, literature, history, physics, neuroscience – line the walls to remind students that clear and compelling writing is valuable in any field. When the Center is not hosting a writing workshop for a particular class or a faculty discussion about Writing Across the Curriculum, you will find students engaged in various stages of the writing process – brainstorming, drafting, revising – with the support of faculty and peer tutors. Walk by during almost any part of the school day and you will hear a buzz of activity.

I love the energy in this space. And I love the moments when I see students finding their voice in an assignment. Our goal is to cultivate confident and competent young writers, and there is nothing more rewarding than helping students realize they have something to say and the tools they need to say it.


Allison Williamson
Director of Academic Writing