Our Story

The Jane Schaffer Academic Writing Program® is the premier academic writing system for students and teachers. The program includes an initial structured, organized, and logical method for novice and struggling writers K-12. That same method transforms into sophisticated weaving and syntactical techniques for college-bound students taking advanced courses. Popular workshops include Expository/Informational Writing Across-the-Curriculum, Argumentation, Response to Literature, Narrative, and Style Analysis. Analog and digital teacher guides, student masters, and other materials accompany workshops and may be purchased online. Novel and Drama guides for literary classics are available for online purchase. For teachers of all students and parents of home-schooled children, live and digital workshops and webinars are available in a variety of formats. The program aligns seamlessly with state and national standards; it also addresses high-stakes tests, such as the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR®), the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), Advanced Placement® (AP®), and more. The program is currently implemented in districts across the United States and around the world.

The Misconception

Over the years, some people have found fault with the methodology of the Jane Schaffer Writing Program. They misconceive the ratio of concrete details to commentary, along with the graphic organizers central to the process, to be the final destination to which we lead our students. Perhaps this misconception is a result of a misapplication of the program as originally intended by Jane. These educators have not been “officially” trained and have come across material, interpreting it incorrectly. For if they had been trained by Jane or her national presenters, they would understand that the precise structure is a place to start for students who need it. Once a student masters the skill of discerning between a concrete detail and a comment, we encourage teachers to move that student beyond the structure into what Jane called “weaving.” Some students take longer than others, and some students, especially special education students, can become successful writers without weaving. Most writers, however, should evolve past the structure, and the teacher and the student are responsible for making that move based on student readiness. Students who move beyond the scaffolds then become weavers and student coaches in their classrooms for those who are still learning. The ultimate goal of Jane Schaffer is to provide individual and collective writing instruction and to differentiate for all learning styles. We recommend that educators attend an official training to fully understand the pedagogy and its intent.

Those Magical Pens

Color-coding the sentences help students to make a cognitive connection between the thinking and organizational process of an essay. Writing is about Thinking. And with these magical pens, teachers train students to ask the appropriate questions to generate relevant and appropriate details as well as thoughtful and insightful commentary. Guiding students to connect one sentence to the next with transitional thoughts is challenging for teachers, and the pens help with that process.

"All Students Can Think; All Students Can Write."

Jane Schaffer, Founder, Non-negotiable #1, 2000

Jane Schaffer
Founder | The Jane Schaffer Writing Program®

Jane Schaffer earned her degree in French and English at UCLA in 1968 and her secondary teaching credential from San Diego State College in 1969 and started teaching English, French, and Latin later that year. Since then, her quest has always been to find a way to teach all students how to write.  She developed her writing program for students at all levels from special education and ELL through honors, Pre-AP, and AP.

She taught at Santana High School in Santee, California, for eighteen years.  In 1987, she and a colleague worked with others to open West Hills High School in Santee, a new school in the same district.  The English department was given the opportunity to begin teaching the Jane Schaffer method to freshmen. The program led their students at all grade levels to the #1 spot (of ten comprehensive high schools) on the annual district writing assessment, a place held for many years.

Like many of her peers, Jane didn't learn the process of writing when she was a student in high school and did poorly as a college freshman. Her college professors made comments such as "It's obvious you can't write." She met many teachers who were treated similarly. To borrow from William Faulkner, they all not only endured; they prevailed.  Jane’s mission became clear:  “We wanted to spare our students the same embarrassment and humiliation that we as youngsters felt when our essays earned random C’s and D’s.”

Jane developed her first of eleven Non-Negotiables: ALL STUDENTS CAN THINK, AND ALL STUDENTS CAN WRITE.

The goal of this program is to demystify the blank page and enable every student to master the elements of composition.  Students often think that writing is a mystery, and only the teacher has the solution. It isn't a secret; it's just hard work. Teaching writing is teaching thinking. Our goal is to break the process into digestible steps that all students can follow.

Over the years, we have conducted many workshops in many states to share our writing program and continue to do so. We started offering workshops in Advanced Placement Literature and Composition in 1984 in San Diego and have branched out since then to include Program Improvement districts, schools with 900 API, and grades ranging from elementary to college.  Before Jane passed away in 2010, she and her team were updating the Jane Schaffer Writing Program and Workshops to include Color Coding, Weaving Techniques, and Jane’s newest innovation Webbing-off-the Word™ and Webbing-off-the-Topic Sentence™.  Wherever we go, whatever we do, Jane’s words and advice resonate with us.

Deborah E. Louis, Ph.D.
Owner | The Jane Schaffer Writing Program®

In 1989, Deborah Louis began her career in education. Until the fall of 2006 Deborah taught On-Level, Pre-AP, and AP English to middle school, freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior students of diverse ethnicities with a variety of learning styles.

While at Duncanville ISD. from 1990 to 1998, Deborah was appointed Secondary English Vertical Team Coordinator where she coordinated a team of twelve Pre-AP and AP teachers in the design and development of an aligned and comprehensive 7-12 Pre-AP and AP English Program.

In August 1998, Deborah began teaching at Birdville Independent School District where she taught junior AP Language and Composition and senior On-Level English and served as English Vertical Team Coordinator for Birdville High School and its three K-8 feeder schools. In 2002, while still at Birdville, she became an Instructional Technology Specialist, training multidisciplined K-12 teachers in methods of integrating technology into their curricula to meet district, state, and national objectives.

In 2004 Deborah was asked to join Dallas Independent School District as Lead AP English Instructor where she worked with inner city students and teachers in developing programs, coordinating workshops and institutes, and modeling effective lessons in the classroom.

Deborah is a former College Board consultant, conducting numerous one- and two-day workshops as well as summer institutes across the Southwest Region and on the National circuit between 1994 and 2005. In August 2007 she opened Louis Educational Concepts, an independent consulting firm which provides professional staff development training to educators and concentrated instruction to groups of students in all subjects. Deborah's focus is innovation in education, producing over 35 workshops in English Language Arts and TechEd. She works with philanthropic foundations who entrust her to develop, coordinate, and manage programs to improve the educational experience for students and teachers.

Deborah met Jane Schaffer in 1992 and began using her program with high school students of various learning styles and abilities. Over the years, Deborah attended many of Jane’s workshops and the two developed a professional and personal relationship. In 2007, Jane asked Deborah to become one of her national presenters. After Jane's diagnosis, she talked with Deborah about carrying forward the Jane Schaffer Writing Program's legacy. Honored by Jane's request and committed to spreading JSWP to students and teachers in the digital age, Deborah purchased the Jane Schaffer Writing Program® in 2011. Deborah has a B.B.A. in Marketing from the University of Texas at Austin, an M.A. in English with Emphasis in Classical Rhetoric from The University of North Texas in Denton, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Humanities from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria. She resides in Dallas, Texas.