New Director Takes Reins of School Writing Program

Rita Braun now heads up the local Writing Coaches of Montana program

By Justin Franz

A Whitefish writer and editor with more than 20 years of experience has taken over a local writing coach program in the Whitefish and Columbia Falls school districts.

Writing Coaches of Montana started in Missoula 24 years ago and has since spread across the western part of the state. Local writer Brian Schott, who edits the Whitefish Review literary journal, brought the program to Whitefish in 2015. The writing coach program has since expanded to Columbia Falls.

This fall, Rita Braun became the director of the Flathead program. Braun has been a coach since the program arrived in Whitefish. The program matches writers and editors with students to help work on essays and other writing assignments. Writing coaches do not need to have a formal writing background.

Last year, 105 volunteer coaches conducted more than 850 coaching sessions in Whitefish and Columbia Falls. This year, the program hopes to provide more than 1,000 writing coach sessions.

“In a world increasingly full of emojis and rapid-fire texts, I find writing coaching important work for our youth,” Braun said. “Helping students think critically and then express those thoughts in clear and concise writing helps prepare them for any career or life pursuit.”

In the past 24 years, Writing Coaches of Montana has expanded from fewer than 100 coaching sessions to more than 4,000 individual student conferences every year across western Montana.

Community members interested in learning more about the program and to sign up as a volunteer in the Flathead Valley can contact Braun at [email protected], call her at (406) 314-3751, or visit writingcoachesofmontana.org.

Professional training will be offered to interested coaches on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, from 6-8:30 pm at Whitefish High School.

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