National Writing Project

National Writing Project Founder James Gray Dead at 78

For Immediate Release


BERKELEY, CA, November 3, 2005 - James Gray, founder of the National Writing Project, died November 1 in Danville, California, after a long illness.

Gray, a former high school teacher and then a senior lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley's Graduate School of Education, founded the innovative Bay Area Writing Project in 1974. Acting on his belief that successful classroom teachers were an untapped resource for providing their peers with professional development, Gray brought together 25 talented Bay Area teachers and charged them with sharing their expertise about the teaching of writing.

The Bay Area Writing Project became the first site that offered a professional development model for teachers of writing. Now known as the National Writing Project (NWP), the program has grown to 189 university-based sites located in fifty states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Gray served as Executive Director of the NWP until his retirement in 1994 and remained on the NWP Board of Directors until his death. Gray's simple but highly successful model has been responsible for transforming classroom practices and improving student writing performance at schools in rural, urban, and suburban communities across the U.S.

"Jim's belief in teachers and their knowledge, commitment, and creativity never wavered," said NWP Executive Director Richard Sterling. "We are all the beneficiaries of his vision and his tireless work on behalf of the National Writing Project."

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