Kate Reuther 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 boys.
Dorkys Ramos 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.
Bobby DeJesus: 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.
Thea Nunez-Trauceniek 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.
Josh Bayer 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.
Shamie Cuthbert 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.
Amy Handelsman is a writer, story consultant and dramaturg for film, television and theater in New York and Los Angeles. Among the places she has worked as an executive or producer are HBO, Showtime, Disney, Warner Bros, and Tri-Star. She serves on the Artistic Council of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and is an Adjunct Professor in the Creative Writing & Literature department at Stony Brook University. Amy has also taught Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and Literacy Skills at Girls Prep, an all-girls charter middle school in the South Bronx. She likes monsters of all kinds, and still has her childhood collection of trolls.
Jane LeCroy 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.
Emma Jones is a poet and novelist as well as 2011-2015 Uptown Stories alumna and Washington Heights native. Her work in prose and poetry has been accoladed by Scholastic, the Poetry Society of London, and the Foundation for Letters. She is currently pursuing a degree in Literary Studies at Eugene Lang College at The New School, where she was awarded the Lang First Year Writing Prize in 2019. She is a self-taught graphic artist and learned literary interior design at Hachette Book Group in New York.
Angela Zirbes is a self taught artist from Iowa pursuing a BFA in Illustration with a double minor in Communications Design and Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design. She has designed and executed murals in New York City, including a large scale piece in the classic Newsbar Cafe on Union Square and a live-drawing mural at the 2019 Met Museum Showcase hosted by CxRA. She is an illustrator with a passion for visual storytelling with experience in editorial illustrations, publication, graphic design, comics and art direction.
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.