Writers Academy for Youth

students at Writers Academy

Welcome to the Summer 2020 Writers Academy

For youth in grades 5-12

The UNH Writers Academy is a place where students are treated as writers. They can put their creative juices to work and improve their skills in a relaxed yet challenging environment. Students will write daily and exchange ideas with other young writers. They will discover various writing styles and meet professional authors who will share their own experiences about becoming successful writers.

Students are grouped according to the grade they will enter in the fall. Each middle school section (5/6 and 7/8) is limited to 20 students with 2 teachers; multiple high school sections (9-12) are offered each week in groups of 10 per instructor. Look for the instructor’s name when selecting a high school section for enrollment.

All sessions meet 8:30 a.m. – 2:15 p.m., Monday-Friday, in Hamilton Smith Hall, 95 Main Street, Durham, NH. Parking information will be provided after enrollment.


Note: Before- and aftercare is not available. Please plan accordingly. Carpooling is strongly encouraged.


Offerings for 2020

Shelley Girdner

Guest author Shelley Girdner 

Shelley teaches at the University of New Hampshire. Her poems have been published in several journals, including most recently Hunger Mountain and Painted Bride Quarterly, as well as The Indiana Review, Mid-American Review, Poet Lore and others. She’s been a featured poet in the Aurorean, a finalist for the Slapering Hol Chapbook Prize, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry. More recently, she was featured for PBS News Hour’s Poetry spotlight.

June 29 – July 3

Grade 6 – 8
Instructors: Tomasen M. Carey and Mark Holt-Shannon

High School
Instructors:  Kristina Peterson and Dennis Magliozzi

High School 
Instructor:  Shelley Girdner

High School
Instructor : Lauren DeConstant

July 6 – 10

Grade 5 – 6
Instructors: Ashley Healey and Maryellen Webb

Grade 7 – 8 
Instructors: Karen Atherton and Pam Murphy

High School 
Instructors: Clark Knowles

High School
Instructor: Christian Gompert

High School 
Instructors: Sarah Fenerty

July 13 – 17

Grade 6 – 8  
Instructors: Ashley Healey and David McCormick

High School
Instructor: Lauren DeConstant

High School
Instructor: Sarah Cook

High School
Instructors: Kristina Peterson and Dennis Magliozzi

Instructor: Branden Wood

For question please contact Tomasen M. Carey, Director

  • Writers Academy Students in the classroom

    "My favorite experience was the blackout poetry and the 50-word writing pieces we did. "

    8th Grader

    "I really enjoyed the community and how active my teacher was."

    11th Grader

  • Writers Academy students

    "My favorite experience was probably the 4 random ideas because it got my mind thinking.  Those words really don’t go together.  I also liked the library.  Since it was so quiet and calm my mind was forced on one thing only: writing."

    5th Grader

    "I liked filling up my book with memories."

    5th Grader

  • detail of Writers Academy student's notebook

    "I loved learning new techniques and meeting new people"

    9th Grader

    "My favorite experience at Writers Academy was just getting feedback on writing, and just getting new ideas. "

    7th Grader

    "I enjoyed writing the dialogue story."

    6th Grader


group of Writers Academy students

Writers Academy Group

Photography: Mark Holt-Shannon


The University of New Hampshire is internationally known for its work in writing. Beginning in the 1960s, Donald Murray urged teachers to treat all students as writers: they need subjects that engage them and helpful responses from other students and the teacher. Murray’s colleague and friend, Donald Graves, extended those ideas by showing how the elementary classroom could become a writer’s workshop. His book Writing Teachers and Children at Work has transformed how writing is taught in schools.

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