professor
Penelope Usher

Apr 2020

Professor Usher is an absolute joy! I was extremely nervous for first year wiring as I am a mainly STEM student and writing is not my strong suit. However, Professor Usher is extremely nice and welcoming from day 1 of classes. She is a Barnard alum and is extremely passionate about her work and helping students. Professor Usher is the first writing teacher I have had that has actually taught me how to write rather than expecting that I know what to do off the bat. She really makes sure to teach EVERYTHING that one needs to know in order to succeed in her class. If you don't really consider yourself to be a strong writer I strongly suggest you take her class. You can tell that she tries really hard to help her students in every way possible. When classes got moved to online (Spring 2020) the effort she put into making online classes as smooth and easy for students as possible was the most I saw out of any teacher. Participation is a big part of the class (as it is in many first year writing courses) and Professor Usher picks really interesting texts that make it easy to engage during discussions. She tries to push everyone out of their comfort zones and encourages everyone to speak at least once each class. She is welcoming to all ideas and is always willing to help when writing essays. She has office hours twice a week and is also very flexible with setting up meetings outside of her office hours if need be. Two weeks before the essay is due a rough draft is due. She then has an individual meeting with each student outside of class to go over her comments on the drafts. Student can then use her comments to rework or fix parts of their essays based on her comments, and the final draft is due the following week. As long as you follow her comments on your rough drafts, and fix what you talked about in your meeting, you should get a good grade on the final draft. She is by far the best english/writing teacher that I have ever had. TAKE HER CLASS IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. Literally the sweetest woman ever. Grade Breakdown: Essay 1-15% Essay 2-25% Prospectus (Essentially your proposal for your research essay)-10% Essay 3 (Research Essay) 25% Participation- 15%

Apr 2020

Prof. Usher is amazing! I did not know anything about her before taking this class and I am so glad I ended up in her section. She is extremely kind and intelligent, it is clear she cares about each and every one of her students as people. She chose texts that were diverse, engaging, and completely reasonable length. She does a good job of making the class discussion based and focusing on themes in the text in ways that foster good discussion and prove very helpful when you're writing your essays. She gives clear, targeted feedback on essays - when you meet with her to discuss, she really takes the time to walk through it and help you brainstorm and advance your ideas. There's also a lot of choice generally in writing assignments in choosing prompts/texts (though there obviously are baseline requirements). She's got a super bubbly personality and always checks in with her students, and talking to her in office hours outside of just meetings about essays was also super helpful. I highly recommend this class for First Year Writing.