Long-time English faculty member Tom Zimmerman is a man of his words.
Between teaching English and literature at Washtenaw Community College for the past 23 years and serving as faculty advisor for the poetry club, editor at The Huron River Review, and director at the writing center, it’s hard to believe that Zimmerman has any time to create, but when he does, he turns to poetry.
“It’s one of the most important things in my life. It enriches everything that I do,” Zimmerman said. “I think it improves my teaching and gives me some extra insight while helping students with their writing because I’m in it myself.”
Over the course of his 30-year career, Zimmerman has had more than 600 poems published in several poetry magazines, including Big River Poetry Review, Curio, Rasputin, Antiphon and most recently, The Sacred Cow.
Aside from teaching in the classroom, most of Zimmerman’s time is spent in the writing center — located in the Crane Liberal Arts and Science building — helping students along with his fellow faculty and staff polish up their writing skills.
When it comes to evaluating the writing skills of today’s students, Zimmerman said they’ve improved. And you may be surprised to learn that he attributes that progress to the popularity of social media, including texting.
“Texting is not formal writing, but it’s a kind of fluency in communication,” he said. “A lot of students know they need to write to communicate because face-to-face interaction is not as common as it once was. In some way, I think students may be more comfortable now than they were in the past with the idea of written communication thanks to texting and many of the social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.”
The Writing Center exists not only to help students successfully complete any academic assignments that come their way but to become better writers in the long run.
The friendly and knowledgeable WCC instructors and tutors help with writing of any kind from traditional English papers to resumes to letters of recommendation to scholarship essays.
“I come here every Wednesday and every tutor I’ve worked with has been really nice and helpful,” said nursing major Bre Collins, who was in the middle of diligently working on a writing assignment for her English class.
In the upcoming years, Zimmerman hopes that more students realize that writing is one of the most important skills to have regardless of profession.
“In almost any line of work, you’re going to have to write and you don’t want that to be a weakness,” he said. “Most people don’t have to be great writers, but it should be something they’re proficient in at least.
“I love working at WCC because there’s always been an innovative spirit to the school and I think part of that is due to the openness we have here in the Ann Arbor/Ypsi community,” he added. “If you have an idea, like the writing center for example, that’s going to benefit students, you have the freedom to do it at WCC and that’s a wonderful thing.”
To learn more about the writing center at WCC, visit sites.wccnet.edu/writingcenter.