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Jamie-Lee Josselyn: Encouraging the Art of Writing and Collaborative Learning

Jamie-Lee Josselyn: Encouraging the Art of Writing and Collaborative Learning

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Jamie-Lee Josselyn, the director, Summer Workshop for Young Writers, associate director for recruitment, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing of Kelly Writers House, University of Pennsylvania. Let’s learn what’s happening at Kelly Writers House, University of Pennsylvania and how Jamie-Lee is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Jamie-Lee! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Kelly Writers House, University of Pennsylvania?

Jamie-Lee: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! The goal of the Summer Workshop for Young Writers is to provide creative high school students, especially those who have not had similar opportunities, with the chance to dedicate full days to the practice of writing. We believe strongly in the power of the creative community and in collaborative learning with storytelling at the center. We also feel strongly about giving high school students, especially first-generation and low-income students, the opportunity to spend time on a college campus.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Jamie-Lee: I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, and that college happened to be the University of Pennsylvania, where I was a member of the Kelly Writers House community. I also had the opportunity to participate in a summer program with a focus on writing at another institution, St. Paul's School in New Hampshire, where I grew up. That program was world-changing for me, both because it gave me confidence as a writer and as a soon-to-be college applicant. All these years later, it's hugely rewarding to have gotten to create a program at the Kelly Writers House that helps students in a similar way.

Spiffy: What is the impact of your work?

Jamie-Lee: The Summer Workshop's impact begins with connection. Our primary goal is to get writers in a room with other writers, peers, as well as mentors, and to watch and support what happens from there. This program enables students to collaborate with like-minded peers, to learn from practicing writers, and to see the impact of storytelling in the world. We also show students how relationships that begin in the classroom can expand beyond it into long-lasting friendships and collaborations.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?

Jamie-Lee: This July, we welcome our seventh cohort of Summer Workshoppers to the Writers House. We can't wait to meet the group, which includes rising 11th and 12th graders from as close as Philadelphia and as far as California, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Kentucky. Half of our students will receive full tuition assistance and funding for travel to and from Philadelphia, thanks to the ongoing support of Maury Povich (yes, *that* Maury Povich!) and Connie Chung (yes, *that* Connie Chung!).

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Jamie-Lee—it’s been an honor!

Jamie-Lee Josselyn is associate director for recruitment and an instructor for the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also director of the Summer Workshop for Young Writers at the Kelly Writers House and has taught writing workshops for high-school students and others around the country. (Nominated by Rowana Miller at Cosmic Writers. First published on the Ladderworks website on July 14, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Shikha Tandon. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.