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Free Online Summer Workshops
for English Language Learners
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In partnership with NYS TESOL, Herstory will be offering up to ten 10-week workshops for students who wish to write their stories.  Students from all over New York State will be guided in a unique process where they explore with one another the best way to help a reading stranger to walk in their shoes.  Each summer cohort will become a family in this time of isolation, working together to determine where they’d like their stories to travel in the world, to help other students keep their hopes and dreams and to let their parents, teachers and communities know who they are.   The workshops will take place in English, to allow all language learners to participate, regardless of their country of origin, with the freedom to write in the language of their memories and dreams at the heart of the project.  These workshops are part of a larger Herstory “Student Stories for Our Time” online project to foster leadership, community building and a story-based strategy to ensure the core values of empathy, equity, and inclusion for all.  

Susanne Marcus, former president of NYS TESOL, writes: Storytelling can transform our perceptions of the world.   When we share one another’s stories, we enter the power of the human spirit. Now, more than ever, our ELLs need to share their stories.

Since the pandemic has thrown us all into a new world of remote learning, many of our ELLs are without daily face-to-face interaction with their teachers or other English-speakers. We know this has negatively impacted their progress in developing proficiency in English.

The incidental learning that occurs through daily interactions at school cannot be overestimated.  This includes our content-based, as well as hidden curriculum. The challenges of remote learning have left our most vulnerable students behind, and with the uncertainties of summer programs looming, we risk seeing a decline in overall achievement in the future.

This summer, Herstory Writers Workshop will be offering small group, virtual writing workshops to allow high school and college students to create a sense of community and hope. Students will learn special techniques to generate stories strong enough to move their readers to compassion while deepening their understanding of urgent issues of social justice.

Students from high schools and colleges/universities across the state are welcome to join this exciting online workshop.

  • Do you have students with whom you wish you had more 1:1 time?

  • Do you have students who can benefit from an in-depth writing workshop this summer?


You may have students who under “normal” circumstances would participate in a summer learning program but due to the pandemic are unable to do so. Many who would have taken a NYS Regents Exam are no longer doing so. These young people can benefit from joining this online writing workshop community to maintain and develop their skills in English while having their voices heard.

Now, more than ever, we need to offer ways for students to build community. Students’ words can inspire others and while writing, students further develop their proficiency in English!

Students best matched to benefit from this program are at the High Intermediate-Advanced levels of English proficiency (NYSESLAT: Expanding-Transitioning-Commanding) or are Former ELLs. 

Participants are students who:

  • like to write, but may not write well for school assignments

  • want to connect with other young people

  • want to “be the change they seek”

  • want to wake up others around them

  • want to have their voices heard

  • are available for 10 two-hour online workshops using ZOOM (video) with internet connection

  • are responsible in replying to emails in 48 hours

  • are willing to share their thoughts & writing with others in the group on Zoom

  • are caring listeners, supportive of others in the group on Zoom

  • have the desire to learn writing strategies to allow their stories to change the hearts and minds of a wide audience

  • are willing to share and/or publish their writing with a wide audience, perhaps at NYS TESOL’s Annual Fall Conference in November 2020

Please contact Susanne Marcus at and Erika Duncan at if you have students interested in participating in this exciting, free program! Potential participants will be asked to write 2 paragraphs, in English or their native language, explaining why they’d like to join this program.

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