Kate Reuther (Gender pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Founder and Director of Uptown Stories. She has taught writing for over fifteen years, in both public and private schools, including Calhoun, Fieldston, and Bank Street. Her own fiction has appeared in The Madison Review, Brain Child, Salamander, and The Ledge. She has a BA in English from Yale and an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Kate is a life-long New Yorker and has been living in Washington Heights since 2003 with her husband and two children.
Dorkys Ramos (Gender pronouns: she/her/hers) is a bilingual writer, editor, artist, and teacher born-and-raised in Washington Heights/Inwood. Her work has appeared in a variety of digital and print publications, including Travel + Leisure, BET.com, Time Out New York Kids, Parents Latina, the Syracuse Post-Standard, and the Manhattan Times, among others. She currently teaches art to grades pre-K through 5th through Scribble Art Workshop in elementary schools in Washington Heights and Inwood and is part of the steering committee for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ metro chapter. She’s a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications where she studied Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Journalism and is also the founder and illustrator of stationery company Porcupine Hugs.
Josh Bayer (Gender pronouns: he/him/his) is visual artist whose work has appeared in print, video, posters, and exhibitions internationally. His graphic novel Theth was featured in The Best American Comics 2015, and he is the editor and head writer for All Time Comics, a 2017 imprint from Fantagraphics Books. He can be found in New York City in teaching to students at the 92st Y Art Center, Parsons Illustration Department, JobPath and Visiting Nurses Services.
Bobby DeJesus (Gender pronouns: he/him/his) the Actor/Screenwriter/Director was born to Dominican parents and raised in New York City’s Washington Heights. He is a graduate of The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts and is a practicing artist as well as a teaching artist. His work as a screenwriter can be seen on youtube in the short film comedy “Fifi Patelito Goes to the DMV” and soon on the current film festival circuit with his directorial debut “Indentured Servant” a short film drama. Bringing over 13 years of experience in the teaching artist field, he inspires students to write and perform beyond their imagined abilities whether in poetry or theater. He is incredibly passionate about fostering confidence in all of his students, no matter the level but particularly with children and young adults.
Shamie Cuthbert (Gender pronouns: she/her/hers) is a teacher, writer, and local mom. After teaching creative writing workshops for about a decade, she attended Bank Street College of Education, where she received a Master’s in Early Childhood and General Education. She has been teaching in New York City independent schools for the past five years. Passionate about both teaching and writing, her main focus is to enhance the natural creative abilities of children, while facilitating the development of skills and strategies to execute ideas. As a freelance writer, Shamie has published several social perspective pieces for the independent publication, Circle Magazine. She is currently working on a collection of New York City based short stories for children.
Stacy Davidowitz (Gender pronouns: she/her/hers) is a proud Washington Heights-based author, playwright, and screenwriter whose work has been produced regionally and internationally. She is the author of the four-book middle grade series Camp Rolling Hills (ABRAMS), the three-chapter book series Hanazuki (ABRAMS / Hasbro), and the upcoming book The Chance to Fly with coauthor Ali Stroker. Stacy’s full-length plays and musicals are published by Broadway Play Publishing, Steele Spring Stage Rights, YouthPLAYS, and Indie Theater Now. Stacy is also an active teaching artist, facilitating creative writing, drama, musical theater, and improvisation workshops to students in NYC public schools, private schools, camps, and foster care programs seven days a week. She is a graduate of British American Drama Academy, Tufts University (Bachelor of Science) and Columbia University (MFA in Acting). Check her out at stacydavidowitz.com.
Joshua Johnson (Gender pronouns: he/him/his) wears many hats: he is an award-winning designer, storyteller, and columnist whose work in print media has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Scholastic Press Association, and the Associated Collegiate Press. With a BA in journalism and theater from Harding University in Arkansas, he works as a copy editor for Vocal Media and is pursuing an online MS in print and digital publishing from George Washington University. On a typical New York Saturday, you will find him out on the fire escape, reading a book and probably eating pizza. “Health guru” is not one of his many hats.
Jane LeCroy (Gender pronouns: she/her/hers) is a poet, performance artist and educator who fronts the band The Icebergs and was a part of Sister Spit, the famed west coast women’s poetry troupe. Since 1997 Jane has been publishing student work and teaching writing, literature and performance to all ages through artist-in-the-schools organizations such as Teachers & Writers Collaborative and DreamYard, and as adjunct faculty at the university level. Her poetry book, Names was published by Booklyn as part of the award winning ABC chapbook series, purchased by the Library of Congress along with her braid! Signature Play, her multimedia book from Three Rooms Press, features a poem that was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Thea Nunez-Trauceniek (Gender pronouns: she/her/hers) is a teacher and writer, she has been teaching writing for over a decade. She holds a BA in Literature from the City University of New York and an MS in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education. Thea’s articles and short stories were published by several collegiate newspapers and literary anthologies. She is passionate about working with students and creating spaces where they can take risks and receive support to reach their highest creative potential. Thea is also a native New Yorker and lives in the nautical hamlet of City Island with her husband, daughter and dog.
Mx. Marvin Shelton (Gender pronouns: they/them/their) is a black, queer, gender non-binary educator who has lived in Washington Heights for the past three years and is originally from Louisa County, Virginia. For the past four years, they have taught Humanities, specifically Middle School English, at independent schools and non-profit programs in Philadelphia as well as Riverdale Country School and The TEAK Fellowship in New York City. Marvin received their Master’s of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and their BA from the College of William and Mary. Their pedagogy, research, and facilitation emphasizes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for underrepresented students and faculty at all levels of education. In addition to teaching, Marvin works part time as an executive assistant for the Bronx-based LGBTQ center, Destination Tomorrow, and they serve on GLSEN’s National Educator Advisory Committee outside of the classroom. Their publications include a blog post for GLSEN entitled 4 Ways You Can Support Black, Queer, Trans & GNC Educators Today (2019) and a written contribution within Charity-Hudley, Dickter, and Franz’s (2017) The Indispensable Guide to Undergraduate Research: Success in and Beyond College.
Noelle Tannen (Gender pronouns: she/her/hers) is a Vocalist, Songwriter, Producer Composer, and Educator based in Upper Manhattan. Noelle holds a degree in Composition from The SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music where she studied under Pulitzer Prize Winner Du Yun and Joel Those. Noelle has written and produced 3 studio albums in the past decade and has nationally toured as a solo artist and has performed at theaters such as Merkin Concert Hall, Village Underground, The Neptune Theater, The New Orleans Music Box Village, Jazz festival Rochester Jazz Festival and more! Noelle has been teaching music for the past 7 years, at various community outreach programs and schools in both New York City and New Orleans, LA.
See what parents, teachers and students have to say about Uptown Stories.
I think Sofia's writing has become clearer, stronger and more sophisticated, both in what she's written for the writing class, and what she's written for school assignments. Uptown Stories has helped her tune in to her writing in a way she was not doing before.
Our daughter’s writing has improved in that it now includes more descriptive sentences which flow really well. Her story written in class was very descriptive with many details and very easy to follow.
We did a game where we wrote something on a piece of paper and passed it around so that the others could add onto it. That was my favorite thing we did at Uptown Stories, because we ended up with a funny story at the end.
The quality of teaching is superb. The teachers have the chance to get to know each child, and, due to the small class size, the feedback is very specific. Also, witnessing the other children critique the writing is remarkable - the children are kind and respectful, but very honest. This format that no doubt aids the children in their confidence and skills as writers.
I love the teaching style, because it allows the student to dig into what they may be having trouble reaching by themselves. I believe that 'less is more' is the way to go, but as an effective teaching technique it’s not easy to achieve.
Uptown Stories definitely helped me grow as a writer: I now add details without thinking twice and know what I struggle in as well as what my stronghold is. Being in an environment that I feel comfortable about sharing my writing in has also helped.
Thank you for providing such a creative, nurturing haven for budding writers! In this age of tweets, texts, and fast communication, it is wonderful that our children have the opportunity to stop, think, and write.
Our daughter is much more excited about sharing her work and is willing to make changes to see what happens. She is not just automatically wed to the first way it comes out; instead, she has a much more serious commitment to the process and her standards are much higher.
As far as I can tell, the quality of teaching is superb. While I can't describe exactly what goes on in the classes, I don't think I need to either. The effect the classes have had on our son speaks for itself and the readings are the icing on the cake. It’s part of being a writer, after all, which means they are able to exercise skills that they will need to develop
I think my daughter has a greater appreciation for the process of writing, rather than just wanting to finish something so it's done and can be turned in. She takes great pride in what she's written and I think the creative process that has been encouraged in the class has helped her open up as a person. She is starting to recognize the importance of being able to write and the value of being able to write well.
Our daughter has become more aware of what a writer wants to convey in a story when she reads, because of her new understanding of who writers are. She pays attention to what the writer wants the readers to get from a story and how they use different techniques to accomplish their goal, many of them similar to the ones she is learning herself at Uptown Stories.
Uptown Stories offers a stimulating and encouraging refuge and outlet for her students. The weekly assignments offer different approaches for my son to consider how to tell his stories and how to develop his characters. They also offer insights into their own creative process while also providing ways for him to learn about the structure and forms that contribute to storytelling.
It's an outlet for a lot of feelings I don't really have anywhere to express otherwise. It feels like a private space for me that I only I can really understand--no one other than me really knows what I mean in what I write. Writing helps me express to other people feelings I wouldn't know how to tell in another manner.