Student Testimony


 “You cared about the craft and providing us with the tools we need to become the writers we want to be.”

--Josh Patton 
Introduction to Journalism and Nonfiction

“I was torn on whether or not to continue to pursue a career in medicine or venture into a profession more geared towards writing, of which I was more passionate. By talking to Jonathan, and by completing a semester-long, personal narrative piece, I realized that I wanted to strive towards a career in writing.”

--Matthew Korenoski
Intermediate Nonfiction

“I can honestly say that this course has been life changing for me.”

--Sue Middlewood
Advanced Memoir and Personal Essay

“Thank you for your incredibly thoughtful work. You put your heart into it, and you provided such a meaningful, progressive, and insightful course.”

-- Heather Neale Furneaux
Advanced Memoir and Personal Essay

"I went from writing things that I was embarrassed to upload to CourseWeb to being excited to hear what others thought of my writing."

--Chris Estes
Introduction to Fiction

“Thank you for showing me that writing isn't what I thought it was when I first started this class. I always thought I was horrible in English and by learning exactly how to make a story work, I actually enjoy it now.”

Workshop in Composition


Click here for my latest teaching offerings.

Read stories of my students daring to dialogue across divides here.

Learn how one writing teacher has transformed my life here.

Whether I’m teaching creative writing or composition, I invite you to consider words not just as silent inscription, but also as a vocal sallying forth, a public statement of self.

Good writing explores difference. My workshop in composition class welcomes military vets and basketball players, wealthy suburbanites and farm boys, immigrants and long-time yinzers. We focus on representations of place and power; through sound and video, students share native voices interrogating community, family, and equality. One of them, a nationally known athlete, spoke about the class in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Good writing takes risks. In my service learning composition class, students volunteer with organizations and neighborhoods outside their comfort zone and ponder care, class, and race. We fan out through Pittsburgh’s East Liberty district to inquire about gentrification; students interview locals about economic development before gathering over a group meal to present their findings.

When I can’t teach in person, I find other ways to break down boundaries. In “Advanced Memoir and Personal Essay,” an online course I teach for Creative Nonfiction magazine, I communicate with writers across continents, backgrounds, and ages. Each of my weekly written lectures focuses on an element of structure, from manuscript planning to braiding to research to chronology to publication.

I am also available for private consulting. Contact me for more information.