Tutor Reflections During the Break

Sometimes we take our time spent at Shortridge for granted and don’t necessarily take into account that, because we’re part of Butler University, that we will have a Spring Break. Although we all welcome the break from classes on campus and the routines we all get in to, whether we’re athletes or pharmacy students, I think that I can comfortably speak for most of us when I say that we definitely miss Shortridge. But, to keep everyone up on some of the things we got to see right before school let out for a few weeks, here are a few of our reflections from a powerful day at Shortridge that centered on the idea of going back in time. The responses ranged from the truly touching and emotionally raw to conspiracy theory to flat-out hilarious:

Sarah Hamm: I worked with K –, and her poem was so powerful and full of emotion that it rocked me. I think it rocked a lot of us. She wrote a touching piece about her grandmother. The time traveling prompt led her to think about going back in time and spending more time with her. Her raw emotion blossomed into an amazing poem. She is an awesome writer who is sometimes not comfortable sharing her emotions and I think this poem was huge. She touched a lot of people with it and I think it was a powerful moment for her, her classmates, and us college students

Hayley Adams: Yesterday was super fun because of the mind-blowing conspiracy theories A – shared with Hannah and me. the prompt was so inviting and easy for everyone to relate to and understand that half the fun was just hearing about what the kids enjoy about history!

Logan Spackman: Yesterday I worked with M –, and we had a lot of fun thinking about this prompt. I’d worked with him before, but I found that, on this second go-around, he was much more open and talkative than the time before. That was really encouraging. We worked on a Pete the Panther story, and M – was really into thinking about where he could send this character. He started bringing up the Big Bang, what would that moment look like, and conversely, the end of the universe also, and what that would look like. Could Pete go to these places? He’d write a sentence, then ask me questions about parallel universes, and so on. It got deep. I found that he really liked talking about the possibilities of his story, what might happen, if Pete needed a sidekick, where would a lion dictator named Vincent live etc. I really want some of his work in the magazine, and this would be a good one to have in there.

Elizabeth McGlone: Today’s prompt was awesome! Time travel is something that intrigues most everyone and leaves tons of room for imagination. I worked with E – today and she was super excited about the prompt. She even had seen Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. E – and I both wrote stories, and I wrote a poem. She was still working on her story when I had to leave. I think it was the perfect prompt to achieve the goal of getting at least one piece of writing from everyone and I hope we did!

Compiled by Luke Wortley

New Friends, New Knowledge

Time to introduce a new mentor blogger. Everyone say hey to the newest voice that will be contributing to the website as a member of the BU mentor team at Exclusive Ink. Meet Hayley, a junior at Butler majoring in History and English Literature:

There have been some big shoes to fill this semester at Shortridge. As the Butler mentors nervously stood in the corner like we were back in High School, the emotions of the students flooding into the classroom ranged from excitement to sadness as they searched for the faces of their favorite mentors from last year.
Sadly, many of them have either graduated or have had their schedules change. Thankfully, though, the students’ passion and enthusiasm for writing and generally hanging out allowed for some fast friendships to develop with the new Butler mentors. The consensus among the new mentors is that the members of Exclusive Ink really have become our friends.

I guess this is the part where I say something I’ve learned from my first few weeks of being a new Butler mentor. Lesson number one of working with the students? We are totally equal with them. From day one, it was easy to know that the Butler Mentors could learn just as much from the students’ creative strategies. As cliche as it sounds, they’re the ones teaching us to write. I’m confident that this class will become one of the most important learning experiences for me as a mentor and student.

Contributed by Hayley

First Impressions, From Home and Abroad

The first couple weeks of Shortridge, though pock-marked with a few cancellations and delays, have been incredibly successful for the Writing in the Schools Spring 2014 team. We also have a first this semester; we have a student from another country. Jack is from Australia, and the kids are really taking to him. But we also have a whole host of new Butler mentors of all ages and experiences, ranging from a freshman psych major to senior creative writing majors, that have been contributing every single day. The amount of quality work that the students produce is always amazing, and this semester is no different. Even though this is the first experience with Shortridge for many of our mentors, they have plenty to say about it. Here are some of the general impressions we got from the first week.


Jack Wachtel: The experiences I have been making up until this point are creating such positive memories to take back to Australia. I have gained such an insight to a diverse style of schooling and the type of influence it has on the students, both good and bad. Thursday I was able to work with both D – and M –. I had talked to the girls previously but this time round it was nice to dig deeper and find out more about them.The pleasing thing is that Butler Writers to all the students I have met is a safe haven for them to open up and just be themselves.

Olivia Nelson: On Thursday, I had the pleasure of working with S – . Although we went through the prompt really quickly, as she is quite a fast thinker and fantastic story writer, we came up with a fascinating poem. However, what was even more astonishing was the fact that I learned that she is a fantastic story-writer and finds one of her best talents is storytelling. We actually worked on one of her stories that she had been focusing on for the past few days about herself as a singer and pianist. Although it was in its beginning stages, I see it blossoming into much more. It is amazing to reflect on how these students are getting so in-tune with their creative side.

Logan Spackman: Today was my first day working with a larger group of students. I had four at the table for a little while. And I was really excited to find that my group had the ability to feed off one another. We also got an excuse to talk about things that mattered to us, and the things we could do without. That sort of talk is extremely valuable as we consider not only the community we’re building at Exclusive Ink, but the larger community we’re contributing to in Indianapolis. I’m consistently struck by the dialogue these students are willing to entrust in us, and I’m excited to see how it evolves and grows over the course of the next few months.

Sarah Hamm: I had an awesome experience today with N – and R –. We got work done and we had a really good time doing it. I felt like I got to know them a little bit better, too. R  – struggled a little bit with coming up with a poem, but I feel like she went through a lot of exploration about what she wanted to say and how she wanted to say it, which I think is a big part of poetry. Altogether, I would say that this was a successful day at Shortridge.

Compiled by Luke Wortley

Shortridge, In Brief

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Anyone who has ever wondered what goes on during Exclusive Ink — all the stuff before the big readings at the end, all the stuff that we try to bring to you in the student work and the blog updates — this is for you. Thanks to Bob Barrick, a senior English major at Butler (and one of our Fall 2013 volunteers) for putting this together to capture, in brief, a day at Exclusive Ink.

Notes from the Field

1453354_10201655865096094_260725213_nThis semester’s new mentors are learning the ropes at Shortridge, and our veterans and new students alike have showed us just how talented they are! SHS students are serving up some great writing and learning a thing or two so far this semester. Here are a few notes from the field:

Emily Kile: “Last week, I continued to work with K— during the ECA tutoring. We finished reading an Edgar Allen Poe story that we started a couple of weeks ago, and she seemed to enjoy it a lot. She also told us that she had taken another short story that we read home with her and had made one of her friends read it so that they could discuss it together and talk about what they thought it meant. I’m so glad to see that she really has been enjoying the reading. Hopefully the work we are doing is helping her understand more of what she is reading–I just think that the language barrier is definitely a challenge for her.

Toni Cook: I had the chance to work with K—, even though we all were in a huge group, she was so sweet. I enjoyed working with her and the group as a whole… K— jumped right into the icebreaker and we explained to them what an icebreaker was… I wish I was around for the prompt to hear what K— came up with!

Derrick Brown: Yesterday, I worked with V— during tutoring and M— during Exclusive Ink. Various and I read a fairly challenging book about Pistol Pete Maravich. During our reading we talked about Beth’s iceberg activity and what the text was explicitly saying about Pistol and his father and what their actions were implying. I feel that we made a good amount of progress in looking deeper into a text and characters, something that V— said he had not previously done much at all when reading on his own.

Kelsey Schmoe: Last Thursday, I worked with K—. This was my first time working with her. She is incredibly bright and outgoing. K— is very creative and really wanted to draw out her characters before writing the prompt. It would be a good idea in the future (for creative students) to draw out characters before writing about them. This really gave K— a lot of ideas for the prompt!

Compiled by Kate Newman

New Mentors, Old Pros

This fall semester has brought with it an influx of new, talented mentors (as well as Shortridge students, but I think that’s a post for later in the week), and almost all of them have little to no experience with Shortridge High School. However, the veterans learned quickly that these new mentors already had a ton of tricks up their collective sleeves. Here’s a quick update from some of our newest mentors on the daily goings-on at SHS:


Joel Zimmerly: This Thursday I got to work with D—  and M— . We started off by talking and getting to know each other. It took me a while to find out that they were both musicians and were really into songwriting. M—  was a little more quiet and shy, but every time he managed to get a line written down, he seemed to beam with more and more confidence. D—  worked in bursts, he had one nice line that read “Family come to the table like hungry animals,” he was pretty excited about it.

M—  told me that he often goes to the library with D—  to work on music and songwriting. They got excited talking about a new song they wanted to write for a party so I got them working on that. It was fun to watch, and I wish I could have seen them perform their song on Tuesday as I heard it was awesome.

Emily Kile: On Tuesday, I got to work with two students I had never met before, G—  and E— . They both responded to the prompt pretty well, but they did so in completely different ways, and that was exciting to see. Once we started working, E—  felt immediately inspired and wanted to start writing right away. G—  and I went through all of the steps, and he got really excited about using lyrics from some of his favorite songs in his final piece. He really thought of some creative places for where those quotes might have been said. They were both great to work with (although their writing processes are very different), and I enjoyed getting to work with new students this week!


Derrick Brown: Similar to last week, I worked with V— . We spent both Tuesday and Thursday reading an article about Roy Hibbert, an Indiana Pacers basketball player. After reading the article aloud, I can already tell he has improved on his fluency. When we get back to Shortridge, V— and I will be reading passages from both his and my favorite books, “The Outsiders” and “The Kite Runner,” respectively.

Jonathan McWhorter: Thursday, I worked with J—  who wrote a poem about Drake and his new album of which she is quite fond. And then we talked about college, driving, and jobs, all of the pains and joys of growing up. Also, I learned I’m not such a skilled sandwich maker. Good times.

Compiled by Luke Wortley

No Bologna: Mentor Pens Best Essay


Every day at Shortridge offers a new opportunity to interact with students in different ways, and a vital cog in our program’s engine is sandwich-making. Yeah, sandwiches. They serve as the focal point for conversation for the first few arrivals and are a constant hangout spot for many of our writers who need a little brain food.

One of our most valued volunteers, senior English major Andrew Erlandson, was able to capture the significance of these bologna and cheese sandwiches in his essay “Bologna and Blogs: A Student’s Journey Towards Actualizing The Purpose of His Higher Education”. His reflection on food for thought at Shortridge took top honors in the Kristi Schultz Broughton Liberal Arts Essay Contest, which “offers students the chance to reflect on the value of a liberal arts education.”

To read the full text version of the essay online, click here.

In his essay, Andrew writes of EN 455 and the Writing in the School’s project: “Unlike other collegiate classes, this one wasn’t an opportunity to learn so much as an opportunity to act in the world.”

Andrew goes on to say that his time at Butler, more specifically his involvement in the liberal arts, has given him “…the clarity to live a deliberate life.” I feel like this quote is particularly important for our mission at Shortridge. Our goal is not to just be writing tutors or homework help; we want to be mentors and provide some of that clarity for the students we work with. We are cognizant of that every time we walk through the front doors. Andrew’s essay definitely serves as an affirmation of the impact the program is having on our students and our mentors alike.

Contributed by Luke Wortley

“They all contributed to the story…”

jadon and jerry-1

While we all love working with our individual students and hearing their unique voices at the end of the day, we sometimes forget that working in groups helps to produce some really stellar work. There have been several occasions recently when we’ve decided to try a different dynamic and have the students work in larger groups. Some of the results have been awesome, producing some individual and collaborative pieces, which always make for engaging performances. Here’s what our Butler mentors have been saying about the past few weeks:

Dorene Hinton: On Thursday, I worked with the biggest group ever. In this group everyone had their own opinions on how the writing should be set up. It took a lot of convincing and input into the story to form the writing and the performance. Everyone seemed excited to perform and enjoyed the theme. Overall, it was a very interesting experience, and I was excited that they all contributed to the story!

Katee Rice: It was nice working with M— and J—. We worked together really well. M— really tried to stay true to the prompt, and that was nice. I thought the poem they came up with together was really lovely.

Gerry Justice: J— started to write a tribute to himself, and ended up with five or six lines about his father. F—, sitting to my right, wrote a heartfelt tribute to servicemen in general, and then wrapped it up nicely with a connection to his brother, who served in the military.

Compiled by Luke Wortley

Missing Shortridge


I’ve been coming to Shortridge now since August, and it has been a truly unique experience. Apart from the opportunity to work with these students on such a personal level, it has been a real privilege to watch them grow as writers. As an aspiring writer myself, I know how hard it is to just sit down and make yourself write. So it seems remarkable that they all do every time we’re there. Honestly, I’m a little envious of their productivity—I mean, how do they continuously write such glittering poetry in a mere hour and a half to two hours?

All my writing struggles aside, what I really want to talk about is how much I miss Shortridge when I’m not there. A couple weeks ago I missed a day due to personal reasons. Not being there only highlighted how much I missed hanging out with everyone at Exclusive Ink. I was itching to get back as soon as possible. We all have those things in our lives that we really enjoy, but it is rare to find something that truly becomes part of your life to the point where you wouldn’t know what your life would be like without it. The Exclusive Ink group at Shortridge has become one of those things for me.

After the day I missed, I found out that some of the SHS students had been asking about the whereabouts of “Uncle Luke.” This was pleasantly surprising. I never knew they called me that, and I was so thrilled to hear that the students asked about me. When I’m there, the work is all about them—about their writing, about hanging out with a family of writers that I’ve come to think of as friends. Even when I’m not there, I’m always thinking of ways to contribute to a writing exercise. When I read something, I think of a particular student who may really be into it, too.

Although Spring Break was nice, I can’t wait to get back to Room 238.

Contributed by Luke Wortley

“I left Shortridge smiling…”

823470_472755066107076_549755816_oIt’s been a busy spring semester at Shortridge for the Butler mentors enrolled in the Writing In The Schools course this spring. Besides welcoming poet Major Jackson with open arms and working towards the publication of our second Exclusive Ink literary magazine, our curriculum has expanded to include a partnership with the SHS football team, where several new students have been joining us regularly for homework help.

So far, the new Writing In The Schools class has been up to every task, enabling us to continue expanding our outreach. Here are some of their initial reflections after a full month at Shortridge.

Laura Fernandez: Yesterday was pretty awesome. I was having a really tough day, and I left Shortridge smiling. Thursday was a nice break from writing that allowed us to connect as a group instead of on an individual basis.

Dorene Hinton: I’m glad we now have a system put in place to help the football players and the Exclusive Ink writers, so they both can improve over the course of the semester. Although I was nervous working with some new faces, but the football players understood my explanations and made sense of it. How exciting!

Katee Rice: I was having a difficult time at the beginning of the class working with E– and B– because they were both very independent and didn’t really want much help with the exercise. However, after E– finished writing, he allowed me to help him add some more to his poem and to add more of his own voice to it. I think he stepped out of his shell a little bit. I was glad I got to help him in some way, and I’m glad he was able to open up to me.

Gerry Justice: Recently, I was paired up with J – again. J– is a serious fellow who loves to write. He loves to create. He’s a thinker. He’ll spend a good part of the time looking up at the ceiling, pondering big thoughts.

J– came to class wanting to work on his “Green Light” story, about a guy at a laundromat who buys a special green drink from the vending machine. I told him it sounded like a Stephen King story. I suggested that he try writing a poem based on “Green Light.” He hesitated, but with a little reinforcement, J–  finished a 17-line poem.