Jayne M. Thompson

Jayne M. Thompson, MA, MFA, GWS

  • Teaching Professor of English
  • Director of Chester Community Writing Center

Affiliated Programs


  • MFA, Creative Writing (2010)
    Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ)
  • MA, English (1995)
    West Chester University of Pennsylvania (PA)

About Me

I earned my undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, in literature from West Chester University. I continued at WCU and earned my master's in English. Later I completed my MFA in creative writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. I teach as a volunteer at S.C.I. Graterford. The men in my class and I published an anthology of their writings with the help of Presidential Service Corps member, Emily DeFreitas '15, entitled Letters to My Younger Self: An Anthology of Writings by Incarcerated Men at S.C.I. Graterford and a Writing Workbook, which was featured on National Public Radio's Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane.

The interview is archived on the Radio Times website, where listeners can hear the Graterford men read from their own work. I am also the director of the Chester Community Writing Center, and I encourage all to join me in spreading a love of reading to Widener, the entire Chester community, and beyond. I believe that reading and writing create avenues to freedom.

Research Interests

My research interests include fiction writing and narrative theory. In addition, I hear the cases of juvenile offenders in Chester, and I taught one class a day at Chester High School for the school year. I am concerned about the school-to-prison pipeline, juvenile sentencing practices, and mass incarceration.


  • Thompson, Jayne, and Emily DeFreitas, eds. Letters to My Younger Self: An Anthology of Writing by Incarcerated Men at S.C.I. Graterford and a Writing Workbook. Florham Park: Serving House Books, LLC, 2014. Print.
  • Thompson, Jayne. "Writing Wrongs, Mentoring Youths, Redeeming Souls." Widener Magazine Fall 2014: 22–25. Print.
  • Thompson, Jayne. "Barefoot in the Graveyard." Turk's Head Review. Summer 2011. Web.

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), PEN America, Mid-Atlantic Writing Centers Association (MAWCA), Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region (OHMAR)


  • CUPPIE AWARD, Honorable Mention in the feature article and headline categories from CUPRAP (2015)
  • Clarence R. Moll Professor of the Year Award (Spring 2009)


In the Media


  • Faculty Member in English honored with Distinguished Teaching Award

    Associate Teaching Professor of English Jayne Thompson received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award at Widener’s 2022 faculty awards program. The honor is given annually to recognize one outstanding faculty member and is funded by the Lindback Foundation as a means of honoring dedicated faculty members at universities across the Philadelphia region.

    Thompson has worked more than two decades to join her passion for teaching literature and creative writing with deep engagement in the Chester community.  She has made the act of writing a central tool for addressing the hopelessness and pain of people caught in the "school-to-prison pipeline."  Her work has grown organically from her experiences with high school students, incarcerated people and community groups.

    Thompson has included students through the Chester Writers House and by creating and teaching the Community Literacy and Social Justice course. Along with Widener students, she began a women’s writing group called The World Split Open Story Collaborative for those who live, work, volunteer, and study in Chester.  It encourages women to tell their stories, share life experiences, and explore their sense of agency.

    From her work with the Chester School District; Chester Made and Chester Cultural Corridor; Widener University’s service learning, Bonner Leaders, and Periclean Faculty Leadership programs; and multiple places of communal gathering, to her role on the Mayor’s Advisory Council at Chester City Hall, Thompson’s work in Chester supports vibrant communities.

    Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/27656/

  • University Gives Faculty Award for Civic Engagement

    College of Arts & Sciences Associate Professor Jayne M. Thompson has received the Faculty Award for Civic Engagement, which recognizes sustained outstanding contributions to Widener’s civic engagement mission through her teaching and research.

    Thompson began her community engagement in the City of Chester 25 years ago and has helped numerous Widener students deepen their understanding of social responsibility and advance their critical consciousness through civic engagement. Community is a central theme in Thompson’s teaching, service activities, professional development, political and civic engagement, volunteerism, and home life. From her work with the Chester School District; Chester Made; Chester Cultural Corridor; Widener University’s service-learning, Bonner Leaders, and Periclean Faculty Leadership programs; and multiple service sites, to her role on the Mayor’s Advisory Council at Chester City Hall, Thompson’s work supports vibrant, healthy communities. Widener students have been central to her collaborations on projects and workshops in schools, prisons, juvenile detention centers, senior centers, churches, the Chester Cultural Corridor, literacy centers, and homeless shelters. Thompson exemplifies and elevates Widener’s commitment to civic engagement, and she has changed the lives of many people in vulnerable groups.

    Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/22536/

  • Jayne Thompson Selected as Periclean Faculty Leader

    Project Pericles announced that Assistant Teaching Professor of English Jayne Thompson was selected for the second cohort of faculty members for the Mellon Periclean Faculty Leadership Program in the Humanities. As a Periclean Faculty Leader, she joins a community of scholars, including Associate Professors Marina Barnett and Bretton Alvaré and Assistant Professor Jordan Smith, dedicated to incorporating civic engagement into the curriculum while empowering students to use their academic knowledge to tackle real-world problems.

    The $4,000 grant will help with the development of the Fall 2021 Community Literacy and Social Justice course focused on putting writing center theory and pedagogy to work in establishing sustainable writing centers across the community, the first at State Correctional Institution at Chester, and each with the signature feature of collaborative student leadership of writing workshops and the editing and publishing of writing emerging from those workshops.

    Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/jayne-thompson-selected-periclean-faculty-leader

  • English Faculty Present at Coalition of Community Writing in Philadelphia

    Patricia Dyer, a professor and director of the Writing Center, Jayne Thompson, an assistant teaching professor of English, and Ruth Cary, an adjunct professor of English, presented at the annual conference of the Coalition for Community Writing in Philadelphia in October.

    Share Link: https://www.widener.edu/node/11616/