Photo of graduate student teaching artists working with Dudley Family School students.
Photo credit: Kate Blair

Growing Great Writers is an after-school partnership that leads creative writing clubs for students in grades 4 and up. At Growing Great Writers, we believe that teaching literacy without teaching literature and a love of language is like taking vitamin pills instead of eating delicious, healthy food. By literature, we don’t just mean the classics you read in high school: we mean the read-aloud books of Mo Willems, Maurice Sendak, Virginia Hamilton, and Grace Lin; we mean the chapter book series elementary school kids sometimes gobble for breakfast; we mean comics and Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, and the work of living novelists, poets, and memoirists.

Our teaching artists use techniques that support English/Language Arts classroom skills while emphasizing that reading and writing can be joyful, meaningful activities that build confidence. Taught with love and attention, we believe great readers and writers become great citizens.

Growing Great Writers is supported in part by a generous award from Holman Community Grants. 

“Serving in GGW offers me the opportunity to use the arts I value and practice in a more informal, and arguably “realer” setting. Especially serving youth who’ve already spent all day in school, I’ve come to recognize that my role isn’t as one sided as being a “writing teacher”. When we teach creative writing, we are developing and encouraging our students in literacy. But perhaps more crucially, we are upholding the artistic and expressive capacity in youth.” 

                                                                                  — Philip DiCicco, 2018-19, 19-20 Teaching Artist   

“Being a part of Growing Great Writers has been one of the highlights of my time at Rutgers-Camden. Watching the kids grow as writers, express themselves, and have fun while writing was often the best part of my entire week. While we’ve transitioned to offering virtual homework help due to the unique needs of the school during the pandemic, I’ve continued to feel really lucky to be a part of this program and to help the school. Growing Great Writers has offered me the opportunity to feel like a part of the Camden community and to share my love of writing with some great kids, who I truly believe are the next generation of great writers.”

— Mary Sico, 2019-20, 20-21 Teaching Artist 

Current Opportunities For Teaching Artists

All teaching artist positions have been filled for the 2021-22 academic year. 

What We Do

We partner with Camden schools and community centers to deliver informal club sessions centered on writing expressively. Teaching artists introduce students to age-appropriate and culturally resonant material, invite students to complete writing prompts or play storytelling games, and help students build a body of work they’re proud of over the course of a few months or a year. We want students to celebrate their voices and communities as important sources of language and story.

Our current partners include The Salvation Army Kroc Center, The Neighborhood Center, and Catholic Schools Partnerships. 

We’re always interested in the possibility of new partnerships! Contact us if you are an out-of-school-time leader interested in working together. 

Who We Are

2021-22 Teaching Artists 

Rachel Barber

Rachel Barber is an MFA student in Creative Writing at Rutgers-Camden. When she isn’t writing she likes to read comics, cruise on her skateboard, and play with puppy dogs.









Alyssa Ripley headshotAlyssa Ripley is a recent Philadelphia resident and student in the MFA program at Rutgers-Camden. She loves poetry, the color yellow, and her cat, Tinker.








Juliana Delany Julie Delany has been a professional writer and editor for more than thirty years, helping to create all kinds of publications and web pages. A lifelong lover of words, she reads everything she can get her hands on and enjoys sharing her passion for books and writing with young people.







Taylor Lewis

Taylor Lewis (he/they) is a poet originally from Atlanta, Georgia. He earned a BA in English from Spelman College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers-Camden, where he now teaches First Year Composition.






Michael Sasso

A filmmaking graduate of Chapman University, Michael has worked as a screenplay reader, short film and internet media producer/director, as well as a substitute teacher and nanny. He enjoys humor, writing fiction, making art and illustrations, and working with youth.








Mat Wolff

Mat Wolff is an artist and writer currently working as a project manager for Brattle Publishing Group and studying English Media and Social Justice at Rutgers Camden. He holds a BFA in Sculpture from the University of Houston. He loves dogs, science fiction, vegan food, and quilting.







More teaching artists photos and bios coming soon.