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UW English in the High Schools Teaches College English to Local Teens

Submitted by Henry J Laufenberg on May 28, 2017 - 3:10pm

UW in the High School (UWHS) is a university-wide program wherein UW departments partner with high schools in Washington State to train high school faculty to teach college courses at their home institutions.  Since 1981, thousands of Washington high school students have exercised the option of enrolling in University of Washington classes for UW college credit.

The English department has played an active role in UW in the High School from the beginning.  While the program is large and as such logistically formidable, the true heart of this program is in the relationships between UW English faculty, UW graduate students liaisons and high school teachers.  Our people work intensively in collaboration with high school teachers to be certain their student are benefiting from college-level classes.

Elizabeth Simmons-ONeillElizabeth Simmons-O’Neill is the English faculty coordinator.  "Working with outstanding colleagues, both graduate student liaisons and UWHS high school teachers, creates productive partnerships,” says Simmons-O’Neill.  “Building on work done through a project led by Anis Bawarshi, Roger Chao, Jacki Fiscus and Olivia Hernandez, we're working with UWHS teachers to support under-represented students in taking UWHS courses as juniors and seniors. We align on-campus and UWHS courses and build professional community among instructors not only through observation visits and interactive orientations, but by inviting UWHS teachers to participate in on-campus events.  For example, UWHS teachers attended and presented at the English Department's Praxis Conference in 2015, 2016, and 2017."

Graduate students Sarah Faulkner (current Lead Liaison), Lydia Herberling (continuing Liaison), and Jessica Holmes (new Liaison) facilitate connections between the department and the sixty-one high school teachers offering our classes--roles crucial to the success and continuing quality of the program.


Former Lead Liason Alex Smith describes the dynamic exchange of ideas fostered through the English Department's partnership with UWHS teachers: "Translating college curricula to the more regulated high school environment is a challenging task and requires transparency on both sides in order to be successful. The input from and expertise of UWHS teachers creates such generative conversations for everyone involved, including the liaisons! I actually feel quite spoiled as a liaison because my own teaching significantly benefits from observing the thoughtful, creative, and intellectually challenging activities and lessons plans these incredible teachers develop.  Because a program like this facilitates productive conversations between the often disparate worlds of high school and college, students and teachers alike ultimately benefit: students get a sense of (and a chance to practice) college writing demands within the familiarity of the high school classroom, and high school and college instructors get a chance to begin and maintain a dialogue crucial to the success of public education."

Sarah FaulknerWe are proud particularly that these relationships involve our graduate students, who as young teachers will take forward what they've learned throughout long careers.  "I love being a part of the exchange of developing ideas between campus and high school curricula," says Sarah Faulkner.  "It's so inspiring to witness the generosity, enthusiasm, and skill of our teachers across the state.  As a UW instructor, it has given me valuable insight into the student experience of transitioning from high school to college English--and even the pleasure of meeting some of my students' high school English teachers! It has absolutely enhanced my experience as an educator and collaborator."