Sabrina Alli is the newest member of the 826NYC team and will be running our newest program, the 826NYC Writers’ Room in East Harlem. She started teaching in 2001, after graduating with a B.A. in English Literature and Women’s Studies. She has taught English to middle schoolers, high schoolers, undergraduates, and adult students pursuing the H.S.E certificate. She spends her time writing and is finishing an M.F.A in creative nonfiction. She loves to read social theory, writing by middle schoolers, and anything by Jean Rhys. You can get to know Sabrina by reading our interview with her below.
What were you doing before you started working at 826NYC?
I was in an M.F.A creative writing program at Columbia University, where I also taught University Writing to undergraduates.
What drew you to 826NYC and the 826NYC Writers’ Room?
I love to write and I love to work with children. After I graduated college, my first job was teaching English and Social Studies to sixth graders in Oakland, California. I always loved making books with my students because they put so much effort into writing and publishing the finished product, which became a beautiful book that they could share with their families and friends. I have always been inspired by literature and writing, so I hope to share that love and inspiration with students in the 826NYC Writers’ Room.
Did you ever have anything like the Writers’ Room growing up? What sort of support did you receive with your own writing when you were younger?
I grew up in a small town in Michigan and we did not have a Writers’ Room at my school. But my mother took me to the public library often, so I was always around books. We also had a Young Authors contest at my school. In the second grade, I wrote a book called Lucy and the Alligator about a washing machine and dryer that eat socks. The book won the contest that year and I was so proud.
In your opinion, what sort of things do young writers need in order to become strong writers?
Young writers need lots of encouragement. Many young writers get frustrated and give up too soon because they feel they don’t know how to spell well enough or know enough about grammar. Really everyone is capable of becoming a strong writer because strong writing comes from consistent practice and a wild imagination.
Young writers also need space, which is why I am especially excited about the Writers’ Room. All writers, young and old, need a place where they can go—a room of one’s own—to write, reflect, revise, brainstorm, daydream, collaborate, read, take risks, and write some more.
You will be working with teachers in every subject area. Why do science and math teachers need to think about writing projects too?
Every subject (and life) requires writing. Writing, and more broadly literacy, is not confined to the English classroom. Students need to express themselves in coherent, complex, and meaningful ways in every subject.
What do you want to share about the Writers’ Room that people might not know?
Well, let’s just say the Writers’ Room will have magical powers, and that everyone who steps foot in the Writers’ Room will leave a superhero.
If you want to become a superhero, learn about Writers’ Room volunteer opportunities here.