Reading Great Literature, Writing Your Life

Mastering Personal Essay Writing for Successful Summer Program & College Applications

Target Grades: Grade 7 - Grade 10

Class Schedule

  • 60-min weekly seminar (2-4 students per group)

2021 Spring Sessions (Pacific Time)

  • Only one session is currently available in either of the following two slots:

    • Monday 3-4 pm (starting from 3/1)

    • Thursday 2:15-3:15 pm

2021 Summer Sessions: TBD

Contact us to arrange a class or to be notified of open slots.

Course Overview

What is the key to a successful summer program or college application in your high school career? Being able to tell compelling personal stories. While the mastery of the personal essay plays a make-or-break in the admissions process, the genre is rarely taught in English classes in and outside of school. 


This course will focus on the stories that we, as writers, tell others about ourselves and our communities. In order to build our understanding of both the form and function of the personal essay, we will be looking at examples from both creative nonfiction and fiction. Students who complete this course will:

  • Gain the skills needed to execute the genre of personal essay writing that has become essential to any summer program and college application;

  • Cultivate a life-long habit of intensive self-examination and build a unique sense of the self to stand out from thousands of applicants;

  • Develop a genuine appreciation of great literature and a profound love for writing that last for life.

Instructor: Dr. Kemick

Dr. Kemick is an award-winning poet, journalist, and fiction writer. His new nonfiction book, I Am Herod, takes readers backstage and undercover at one of the world’s largest religious events. He is also the author of Caribou Run, a collection of poetry.


Having published widely in all three genres, Dr. Kemick's work has been included in anthologies in North America and Europe. He is the recipient of multiple awards including two National Magazine Awards.

PhD. in English/Creative Writing

Dr. Kemick shares his own story: his obsession with his meticulously crafted miniature Christmas village. 

Lesson Plan

  1. Introduction

  2. The Building Blocks of Creative Nonfiction

  3. Reading Like a Writer

  4. The Grit of Grammar

  5. Clarity and Argument

  6. Mastering the Metaphor

  7. Writing for Your Audience

  8. The Grit of Grammar (The Sequel)

  9. Editorial Workshops

  10. Final Drafts / Conclusion

Homework & Feedback

Classes will be structured around a close-reading of texts and a discussion of their merits and faults. Students will be encouraged to offer examples of writing that they enjoy in order for each session to be tailored to their interests. 

Students will also be urged to bring new writing (approximately 100-250 words) to each class for the instructor to edit and provide feedback; doing so will enable the student to have written and completed an exemplary personal essay by the conclusion of the course. 

Upon completion of the course, each student will receive overall feedback from the instructor.


"I enjoyed the much more in-depth and challenging discussion about the subjects. It was unbelievably helpful and really opened my eyes to what I could write. As for the instructor, I have never had an instructor or English teacher as compassionate, patient, knowledgeable, and articulate as Dr. Richard Kemick. He has definitely played a big role in my writing journey, and has brought forth so many new ideas and thought processes to the table."


“I enjoyed the discussions and the questions that he asked us to answer and because I was doing it with my friends it made it more fun to talk and collaborate. The assignments that were assigned were very different than what I'm used to, but I really enjoyed them because they were creative writing. Our instructor Mr. Kemick is really nice and honestly makes you feel welcome to talk and he was fun to listen to. He makes us answer questions so we can teach each other.”


"I did enjoy the course; I really liked how flexible it was and how the instructor would adjust the syllabus based on our personal needs and always asked for our opinions on homework assignments and reading material. The instructor’s greatest strengths were the questions he asked us during class to lead us into further understanding and interpreting a certain story or article, since it really forced us to think deeper and process what we were reading, and it also taught us that in the future, we can ask those questions to ourselves to help digest a piece of writing. I also particularly liked how he would give us very straight-to-the-point feedback, both good and bad, to help us realize our shortcomings and help us improve for next time."

"I really enjoyed the course in general. The teacher made me look forward to the classes each week, and on top of that, I learned a ton of new information. I think the course was pretty much perfect, and I do not have any suggestions for how to improve it."


"I enjoyed this course. Dr. Kemick was very straightforward in letting me know what he wanted. His methods are clear, concise, and easy to understand. In my opinion, his lack of sugarcoating is one of his strengths. His lessons were beneficial for letting me write more descriptive essays"

"Mr. Kenwick is a very experienced instructor. He is good at engaging his students to participate in class discussion and delivering the lecture in a way which won’t make his audience feel bored. My daughter enjoyed attending his class."

"I enjoyed the readings he chose to share with us and the helpful tips he gave. I think the strength of the instructor is asking questions about the text that allow us to interpret the text better."

"I enjoyed the part where the instructor would go over our homework in class and give feedback. The instructor was very clear which made it easy to understand."


"Richard was approachable, friendly, and enthusiastic, which made me want to come to class. I learned a lot from him." 


"Richard was very approachable and very helpful. He explained everything with great detail, and he made the class very fun and entertaining."


"Richard’s enthusiasm and humor approach to the course made it entertaining while also making it easy to learn."


"Richard has a very unique way of explaining things which have proved to be very helpful." 



Phone: +1(425) 898-3340


Address: 8153 161st Avenue Northeast, Redmond, WA 98052

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