Resident underwrites 'Write to Thrive' program for New Haven teachers

Teachers in all subjects will gather at Yale for an innovative, two-day seminar on writing and teaching — the inaugural event in a new program to foster a “community of writers” in the city’s schools.
Working with the New Haven public schools, Write to Thrive aims to provide all members of the city’s educational community — not just teachers, but eventually students and teaching aides as well — with a powerful new approach that taps their innate abilities to communicate.
Lesley Mills of Milford, founder of Write to Thrive and owner of Griswold Home Care, will underwrite the Write to Thrive initiative through her donor-advised fund, Griswold LifeTales, at the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.
“Many of our caregivers live in New Haven,” she said. “This is an opportunity for us to express our gratitude to them and their neighbors, many of whose children attend New Haven public schools.”
The program will be taught by Charles Euchner, a longtime author and teacher who is now a case writer at Yale School of Management.
Euchner has developed a program that he calls The Elements of Writing. Based on the latest research on learning and the brain, the program teaches 80 “simple, intuitive skills that anyone can learn in a matter of minutes,” Euchner said.
After the inaugural event, Write to Thrive hopes to create an ongoing community of writers and learners. In addition to teaching teachers the Elements of Writing system, the program will engage student volunteers from Yale and other area universities and create programs for the students themselves.
The key to Euchner’s approach is understanding how humans evolved.
“We evolved as a storytelling species,” Euchner said. “Everyone loves telling and hearing great stories. We also have most of the skills we need to tell great stories. When we make those skills explicit — when we break them down and show how they work — we can explore all school subjects better. And we have fun doing it.”
By understanding the “core structure” of stories, Euchner said, it’s easier to master the technical skills of writing. “Sentences, paragraphs, arguments, and even grammar and punctuation follow this core structure,” said Euchner, the author of books on civil rights, baseball and public policy. “This story-based approach will transform your writing — right away.”
Betsy Weber, executive director of the program, said that the writing program also aims to “improve self-esteem in students and to increase their chances for success in college, career, and life.”
New Haven’s schools, under outgoing Literacy Supervisor Elaine Parsons, have embraced Write to Thrive as a way to support the district’s existing programs on writing in all subject areas.
“Write to Thrive must exist as support for teachers, not as an additional task or in competition with the Common Core Curriculum,” Parsons said. To that end, the program is structured around self-selected teacher skill enhancement. Trained volunteer mentors, working within the classrooms of those teachers who choose to participate, will provide teacher support.
The program will take place Aug. 5 and 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Yale School of Management, Evans Hall, 165 Whitney Avenue, New Haven. For information contact Betsy Weber at 203-787-2069.