Small, personalized classes;
highly qualified instructors
Writing a Memorable Memoir
Online Courses for Adults
and Mature Teens
This five-week evening memoir class will offer a safe environment, craft lessons, examples, prompts, writing time, a discussion of common writing challenges, publication leads, and optional feedback from the instructor on 25 (double-spaced) pages. All experience levels welcome. (The course may be taken by Zoom or asynchronously.)
Instructor Lita Kurth is a college professor and the a co-founder of San Jose's Flash Fiction Forum. She has been published in numerous literary journals and is the winner of the Diana Woods Memorial Award for Creative Nonfiction.
Feb 6 - March 6
Online Summer Course
for Middle School Students
In this course taught by a popular middle school teacher, writers will play with a range of genres. Based on student interest, we may explore fiction, memoir, scriptwriting, and poetry. We will also experiment with a variety of writing strategies, such as idea generation, dialogue, imagery, character development, foreshadowing and/or suspense. The class is capped at 16, so students will receive personal attention and build a strong sense of community.
Instructor Renee Johnson is an experienced middle school English teacher, creative writing camp leader, and private writing coach.
Will be offered in 2024
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College Essay Camp
Online Summer Courses
for Rising Seniors
In a positive, collaborative environment, rising seniors will learn the principles of an effective college essay, study successful models, generate original ideas, draft essays, and receive meaningful feedback from their teacher and peers. They will end the week with less fear, more inspiration, and a solid draft of their Common Application. They will also have the opportunity to work on UC applications, supplements, and scholarship applications. Classes are capped at 16.
Instructor Maya Mahony is a graduate of Stanford, a published writer, and a current graduate student in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Instructor Justin Brown earned a BA in Modern Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing. He has been an English teacher for seventeen years, with much experience coaching the college essay.
June 12 - 16
July 31 - Aug. 4
Online Summer Course for
High School Students (Grades 9 -12+)
Explore your writer’s voice and vision this summer with a deep dive into fiction writing! This course is open to high schoolers who want to create, share their work, and make friends in an encouraging setting, regardless of previous fiction writing experience.
Instructor Maya Mahony is a graduate of Stanford, a published writer, and a current graduate student in fiction at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Will be offered in 2024
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Tarn Wilson has been teaching creative writing to high school students and adults for over twenty-years. She currently works at Gunn High School. She earned an MA in education from Stanford and an MFA in creative writing from the Rainier Writing Workshop, specializing in memoir and the personal essay. She is the author of the memoir The Slow Farm (2014), the award winning memoir-in-essays In Praise of Inadequate Gifts (2021), and t 5-Minute Daily Writing Prompts: 501 Prompts to Unleash Your Creativity and Inspire You to Write (2022). Her essays have been published in numerous literary journals, including Brevity, The Harvard Divinity Bulletin, River Teeth, and The Sun, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Lita Kurth has taught at Santa Clara University and De Anza College as well as in private workshops for many years. A co-founder of San Jose’s Flash Fiction Forum, she holds three Master’s degrees, including an MFA. She is a recipient of the Diana Woods Memorial Award and a two-time Pushcart nominee (creative nonfiction and fiction). Sample publications include Lunchticket, Redux, Raven Chronicles, Main Street Rag, Tikkun, Chicago Literati, NewVerseNews, ellipsis…literature and art, Compose, and more.
Maya Mahony graduated from Stanford with a degree in English and creative writing and is currently a graduate student in fiction at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her stories and poems have been published in The Antigonish Review, Scrivener Creative Review, Anser Journal, BALLOONS Lit. Journal, Collision Literary Journal, Ambrosia Feminist Zine, the Stanford Daily, the Leland Quarterly, and Terrain.org.
Justin Brown has taught high school English for more than seventeen years. He currently works at Henry M. Gunn, where he teaches Film Literature, Advanced English (grades 9 and 10), and Honors English (grades 11 and 12). Justin received a BA in Modern Literature from UC Santa Cruz and an MA in Creating Writing from San Francisco State University. He has tutored many students in creative writing and the art of the college essay. In his spare time, Justin enjoys acting and has performed on stage in two Palo Alto Players productions: "Death of a Salesman" and "The Man Who Came to Dinner."
Renee Johnson has a passion for helping others express themselves through writing. She moved to California from Massachusetts and graduated from California State University, Hayward with a BA in English and a focus in creative writing. She has been a full-time seventh and eighth grade English teacher in the Palo Alto Unified School District since 1998. She has experience teaching a variety of summer writing courses, including Future Author Camp, a writing camp for gifted creative writers. She also enjoys coaching adults and teens in a variety of writing projects, from personal statements to essays and speeches.
Teacher (Writer's Playground)
Kari Nygaard has taught middle school English for over fourteen years and has been a teacher mentor for more than ten years. She currently works at JLS Middle School. She has also taught numerous summer programs for youth in civic leadership, design thinking, creative writing, Italian, music, and HIV/AIDS education. Kari received a BA in International Studies from Middlebury College and an MA in Educational Administration from Santa Clara University. In 2015, she co-wrote a staff-student musical for her middle school.
Chris Bell has been teaching math and computer science since 2006. He has taught courses intended for beginning students and advanced students alike, including Programming for Mobile Devices which he created. Receiving degrees from UC Davis and Notre Dame de Namur University, he has also dedicated a large part of his career to teaching teachers how to effectively integrate technology into their courses; speaking at conferences, providing professional development, and teaching at local colleges.
For questions, please contact:
In-person courses are offered
at Gunn High School
in Palo Alto, CA