Neil Massey, Hamilton High School English teacher and WCM board member, calls himself a practitioner the way a doctor or lawyer would. He believes being an educator requires one to constantly experiment and evolve to provide his students with the most meaningful instruction. Massey’s mentality led him to incorporate Writing Coaches into his classroom. Our program allowed him to break the closed loop of the teacher/student audience and let kids forge authentic connections with community members.
Massey loves that our volunteers are diverse and trained in tutoring best practices. He feels that their presence in his classroom “legitimizes that [students] need to learn literacy skills” and “validates the writing process”. He hopes that because Writing Coaches are an accessible and potentially powerful tool, the use of the program becomes more normalized in the teaching community. Massey sees our program as a valuable investment and unique opportunity to bring a positive element into the classroom, so students associate something good with academic writing.
On an individual level, Massey has seen his students benefit from the personal nature of WCM’s coaching. His students enjoy getting feedback from someone with fresh eyes, and the conversational tone of the coaching sessions helps them feel comfortable and more able to focus on the big picture ideas they are writing about rather than worrying about small mistakes.
Teaching has allowed Massey to stay connected with our community’s youth. He enjoys having an understanding of what young people are concerned with. He says that teaching is “almost like an anthropological study where [he] gets to experience culture through youth”. This is a benefit to volunteering in schools that many of our coaches enjoy as well. WCM’s program allows people of all ages and backgrounds to make connections with others in an authentic, meaningful way.
Massey is an avid advocate for Writing Coaches of Montana and has helped make coaching in Hamilton High School possible. He has also lent us his expertise as a board member and was instrumental in creating our fundraising campaign in 2021. In his personal life, he is a violinist, mostly playing folk music, and he has previously played as a part of a mariachi band. WCM is grateful to have such a talented and passionate person as a supporter.