Rich Kent Enters Retirement

Rich Kent has been involved with the National Writing Project for some time now. After beginning with the Maine Writing Project the summer of 1997, one might say something clicked for Kent. He describes the variety of teachers who participated that summer, and how the writing groups brought them together. He shares memories of Chris, a middle school teacher who loved to sing, and Mary, who was truly a free spirit.  In speaking of the National Writing Project, Kent explains he was so taken to it due to the “community of like mindedness” amongst the teachers. Participants of the project were teachers who wanted to put students first. Inspired by the values of the project and the people he spent time with, Kent remained involved, and became Director sixteen years later; he now holds the title of Director Emeritus. 

Kent has used his support from the National Writing Project to fund multiple projects over the years. The project he emphasized the most was his student-run writing centers. Kent believes in the benefit of implementing spaces within secondary schooling where students have the chance to become tutors and craft their writing skills. Kent currently serves as the Founding Advisor to the Executive Board of the Secondary School Writing Centers Association.  In the past, Kent has organized workshops throughout the state of Maine, and has published books detailing the importance of the centers. His publication, A Guide to Creating Student-Staffed Writing Centers, Grades 6-12, earned him the Outstanding Scholarship in a Book Award from the International Writing Centers Association in 2006.  Kent knows that teaching writing is difficult and high school teachers have many students to assist; the goal of the student-run writing centers is to allow students a space where they can practice their skills on their own, in addition to the classroom. He also believes that English classes at the secondary level should make use of writing groups, a model inspired by the NWP’s Summer Institute. 

Rich Kent is a man of many interests and an educator who believes in staying well rounded. Kent is someone who has remained involved in coaching and writing about athletics throughout his career. His interest in athletics ranges from his work as a Director of Ski Racing, to coaching the State of Maine International Select Soccer Team. Kent says, “this kept me alive,” in regards to his extracurriculars; continuing to coach and be involved in the athletic world has kept him fresh.  Kent introduces a novel strategy to improve the performance of athletes. He discusses the importance of encouraging athletes to reflect on their performance through the practice of journal entries. He mentions that in the traditional style of sporting events, there is not always time for the players to break down how they feel they performed. The journal entries make athletes, “students of the game” by adding learning activities into their experience. When asked how his coaching instruction overlaps with his teaching instruction, he explains that in a traditional classroom setting, students are constantly “unpacking, questioning, and thinking.” Athletes and students are more similar than they are different; Kent has been able to recognize this. 

 All around, it is clear that Kent is an educator at heart. When describing the mindset of those involved in the National Writing Project, Kent brings up a quote from Vivian Paley. “The first order of reality in the classroom is the students point of view.” It is evident that Rich Kent’s career has been dedicated to those he taught. He says that the teachers involved in the writing project believe that “what students think about is more important than what I think about.” Kent has taught students of all ages and empathizes with teachers of all grade levels.  He has a long list of awards and accomplishments, and each recognition is proof of his desire to learn about and influence those that surround him. As of right now, Kent spends his free time writing and editing the work of his colleagues and friends. He has also spent more time hiking and reading.  Kent still volunteers as an advisor at the University of Maine, but describes his retirement so far as, “a bit more freedom, and a lot less emails.” Although Professor Kent has technically retired, there is no doubt he will continue to make great contributions to his field. 


Kent also asks readers to check out the Secondary School Writing Centers Association. The work of implementing the student-run writing centers is just getting started and Kent would like to increase awareness. A link to the site will be provided below.  


Written by Julia Marcella