National Writing Project

Director's Update

By: Richard Sterling
Publication: The Voice, Vol. 11, No. 2
Date: 2006

Summary: NWP Executive Director Richard Sterling comments on the NWP community's responses to the devastating disasters of recent years, its expanding work with new technologies, and the results of the Local Site Research Initiative, and shares his own observations of NWP sites.


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I hope your summer was productive and interesting and that you have also had time for relaxation and reflection. The times we live in require our engaged participation as educators and colleagues, and I know that your participation in the writing project comes on top of many other demands. Thank you again for your efforts on behalf of teachers and students across the country, and welcome to a new academic year. If you are one of the 3,000 teachers who participated in a summer institute this year, welcome to the National Writing Project!

This issue of The Voice speaks eloquently to how writing project colleagues are responding to the world we live in. Several articles highlight how writing project members have responded to last year's devastating hurricanes and to the tsunami of 2004 using writing—both by those who were immediately affected in their home communities and by those who responded to their needs—to promote healing, reconnection, and rebuilding, and of course, learning.

Several other articles in this issue highlight our expanding work with a variety of technologies. The NWP Technology Initiative is one way we are continuing to invest in the teaching of writing and to incorporate new opportunities for teaching and learning that will benefit students—and teachers—now and in the future. I love the new technologies, as many of you know, and I am excited by the work writing project teachers are doing, using these tools to focus on key issues in the development of young writers.

All of us know the importance of research and evaluation today. The research that continues to be conducted through the Local Site Research Initiative (LSRI) epitomizes the hard work and commitment of writing project leaders. The results from LSRI Cohort II are useful for all of us in explaining why an investment in learning to teach writing pays off for both teachers and students. Together, we can continue to deepen our knowledge about ways to increase the effectiveness of our efforts and to support young people in becoming powerful writers and learners.

When I scan the national newspapers each day (nearly always online), I often wish that more stories would focus on the complexity of teaching and learning today. Writers in this issue of The Voice, like writing project authors across the network, look for ways to describe possibilities, challenges, new opportunities, and difficult situations—all with an eye toward making a difference. I am proud to be associated with the many thoughtful, energetic, and devoted educators in the NWP, and I continue to be encouraged by my visits to writing project sites across the country. Whether I speak with a new teacher in a summer institute or read a reflection on a lifetime of teaching, such as Joe Bellacero's in this issue, I hear a similar message: The NWP has made a difference to my work as an educator and to my students' achievement.

Writing is indeed the thread that binds us together and also pushes us to learn and to think in new ways. Thanks to all of you for continuing to share your best work with the NWP. I hope to see many of you at the NWP Annual Meeting in Nashville and at other future writing project events.

Richard Sterling
Executive Director

P.S. Just out is Writing and School Reform, the latest report from the National Commission on Writing. This is the companion report to The Neglected "R." I think you will find it very useful for your work. It is available online at

© 2023 National Writing Project