National Writing Project

Teacher Exchange Promotes Cross-Country Collaboration

By: Pat Fox
Publication: The Voice, Vol. 5, No. 4
Date: September-October 2000

Summary: Pat Fox looks at the collaborative opportunities of the nationwide NWP Teacher Exchange Program and provides information for writing project teachers whom would like to apply.


There's a sign at the Narita Airport in Tokyo, awkwardly translated from Japanese to English, that reads: "We will take your baggage and send it in all directions." I've been thinking lately how aptly this phrase captures an element of the adventure of the NWP Teacher Exchange program.

Over the past five years, Teacher Exchange has taken more than 30 TCs and, quite literally, sent them in all directions—from California to Virginia, from Georgia to Arizona, from Pennsylvania to Louisiana. In fact, if you take the map of the NWP network and connect the dots between those sites that have been joined through the support of Teacher Exchange, you'll soon weave a complex web that crisscrosses the country several times over.

Begun in 1995, Teacher Exchange gives TCs a unique opportunity for professional development and provides a diverse program of cross-site networking that any site can afford to participate in, regardless of size or funding level. Each Teacher Exchange site selects one TC to visit another site and also hosts a guest TC. Each exchange TC participates fully for two weeks in the host site's invitational summer institute and presents a demonstration lesson for which he or she is awarded an honorarium. NWP provides airfare, while the host site provides lodging, entertainment, and local transportation.

This year's group included:

  • Carlyn Bland, South Georgia WP, Valdosta, who visited the Southern Arizona WP in Tucson
  • Simone Gers, Southern Arizona WP, Tucson, who visited the South Georgia WP in Valdosta
  • Annamarie Bonomo, Southern Nevada WP, Las Vegas, who visited the Third Coast WP in Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Michelle House, Third Coast WP, Kalamazoo, who visited the Louisville WP in Kentucky
  • Lanette Johnson, Louisville WP, who visited the Southern Nevada WP in Las Vegas.

Two years ago, recognizing the potential and the need to continue the work begun during summer exchanges, the program began offering minigrants. This additional funding extends the opportunity for collaboration between sites and TCs by underwriting ongoing cross-site inquiry projects that arise from issues raised and collaborative connections made during the exchange.

The professional relationships formed through Teacher Exchange have focused on issues of site development, student literacy, models of ongoing professional development, and curricular challenges faced by TCs and their schools. On these pages, Donna Vincent, Suzanne Linebarger, and Pete Pazmino offer stories of two very different but equally fruitful ongoing professional collaborations that have grown out of the NWP Teacher Exchange.

Site directors, if you would like more information about Teacher Exchange, please contact Pat Fox at 912-921-5692 or We'd love to take your TCs and send them in all directions in summer 2001.

About the Author Pat Fox is director of the Coastal Georgia Writing Project. She also directs the NWP Teacher Exchange program.

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