National Writing Project

Director's Update

By: Richard Sterling
Publication: The Voice, Vol. 10, No. 3
Date: 2005

Summary: NWP Director Richard Sterling comments on the increasing public attention being given to the importance of teaching, the research being conducted by NWP's Local Site Research Initiative, and his talk at the Chinese University of Hong Kong emphasizing the opportunities that digital technology is providing for our students and teachers. . . .


Untitled Document Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I am writing this letter while summer invitational institutes are still under way at writing project sites all across the country, including our eight newest sites. The exciting work that happens each summer and the increasing interaction among writing project sites through participation in the E-Anthology and attendance at network events means that more and more writing project participants are finding ways to learn from and with their colleagues in the summer as well as during the academic year.

And, if you are a new reader of The Voice, welcome to the National Writing Project!

As we look forward to a new academic year, I want to thank all of you once again for your tireless work to bring the teaching of writing to all students and to all disciplines. Through our shared efforts, public attention to the importance of teaching writing across all levels of schooling is gaining momentum. You may have seen the National Commission on Writing’s first televised public service announcement featuring Bob Costas, the sports broadcaster, stressing how crucial writing is in the work he does on a daily basis. The 30-second spot has aired more than 7,400 times. If you did view it, I would love to know. Educating people beyond our own community about the importance of writing is vital, and your ideas about how to do this are very valuable. Please keep sharing them with me.

As you know, the NWP is composed of individuals who are always learning and taking on new challenges. Highlighted in this issue are the results, experiences, and reflections of the first group of sites involved in NWP’s Local Site Research Initiative (LSRI). A second group of sites is currently completing research that we will share in a future issue of The Voice. We have learned a tremendous amount about writing project programming from this work and also about the infrastructure necessary to support this level of research. Along with the network-wide evaluation efforts conducted by Inverness Research Associates, these studies add valuable information and important results to the NWP research portfolio. While more and more research is being asked of us, I am very proud of our accomplishments to date. Thanks again to all of the writing project site directors and teacher-consultants involved in these and other evaluation studies.

Along with many of you, I have been exploring the question of what it means to teach, learn, and write in a digital world. As a former engineer, I have followed with great interest the increasing uses of technology in the humanities. Recently, I was invited to give a talk at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and I spoke about “Teaching Writing in the 21st Century,” emphasizing the opportunities that digital technology is providing for our students, both in and out of school. With our own NWP Technology Initiative and Technology Liaisons Network, we are investing in our learning and that of our colleagues so that we can support teachers and students in using the newest technologies to best advantage.

To learn more about all of the above efforts as well as many other exciting topics, I hope both new and veteran writing project site directors and teacher-consultants will attend this year’s annual meeting, November 17–19, in Pittsburgh. Many of you report that year after year, you are inspired by the workshops and discussions conducted by your fellow writing project colleagues at this event. It is always the case for me, and I look forward to seeing you and to learning more about your work.

Keep writing!

Richard Sterling
Executive Director

© 2023 National Writing Project