Fear that a person’s story has no value can hold any writer back.

“Everyone else’s story is like finding a one-hundred-dollar bill on the ground. Mine’s like finding a penny,” the boy wailed. As a visiting writer helping 200+ seventh graders write memoirs, I blew his mind by replying, “There’s your first line!”

Two core principles inform my practice as a writer, educator, and storytelling series producer: 1) Get the story out of your head so the reader can picture you in time and space, and 2) Your slice of life is as valuable as anyone else’s in the world.

Writing Workshops

I have designed and facilitated a wide range of college admissions essay writing, creative writing, and storytelling workshops for:

  • The Astoria Bookshop
  • The Center for Fiction
  • Eastern Kentucky University
  • Fairleigh Dickison University
  • Global Learning Collaborative High School
  • The Gloucester Writers Center
  • House of SpeakEasy’s College Readiness Program
  • Legal Outreach’s College Bound Program
  • Madison Junior School/ Madison Education Foundation 
  • Palisades Convention Management, Inc. 
  • Queens Public Library
  • The Spence School
  • Success Academy Charter Schools
  • Summerfuel’s CAP Columbia Program & Summerfuel Virtual
  • Sunnyside Arts
  • Sunnyside Plays
  • Woodhaven Neighborhood Senior Center/ Queens Council on the Arts
  • The Young Women’s Leadership School, Queens

Contact me at kjfitzsimmons@gmail.com to design a workshop that best fits the needs of your school, office, or organization. 


Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons is a writer, educator, and storyteller who lives in Astoria, Queens. Her nonfiction work has appeared in (Re) An Ideas Journal, Human Parts, Humungus, Marie Claire, Hippocampus Magazine, and more. Her award-winning essay “My Timeline Stops March 10, 2020” is part of the charitable anthology The Corona Chronicle: Essays For New York from Ellipsis Rare Books.

After a decade of supporting AP teachers and coordinators behind the scenes with the Advanced Placement Program at the College Board, she stepped back into the classroom. Now she designs and teaches writing workshops for students of all ages.

Her specialty is helping high school students craft meaningful college application essays that highlight their unique character for admissions officers. She offers a series of group workshops as well as private coaching.

Kelly Jean earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Combining her love for narrative nonfiction and theater, she created No, YOU Tell It!, a reading series that brings storytellers together to trade tales, speak each other’s words, and empower voices on the page and stage.

Kelly Jean is also the editor of the No, YOU Tell It! Ten-Year Anthology, available from Palm Circle Press. Follow @noyoutellit for more.

As a writing instructor and No, YOU Tell It! producer, she excels at generating a room filled with warmth and levity where writers of all levels can gain a new perspective on their personal stories.