National Writing Project

Teachers Share Literacy Strategies at Hudson Valley Writing Project's Free Seminars

Publication: New Paltz Times
Date: February 22, 2012

Summary: In a challenging time when funds for education seem to be under attack, the Hudson Valley Writing Project (NY) offers teachers valuable resources in its free workshops.


Excerpt from Article

[Hudson Valley Writing Project] headquartered in SUNY-New Paltz's Old Main Building (OMB) is based on a "teachers teaching teachers" model, founded by Jim Gray at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1970s, that grew into the National Writing Project (NWP). Using federal funding provided since 1991, NWP has provided seed grants to start up new chapters, with the ultimate goal of making the program accessible to every teacher in America. Ongoing support from NWP to the tune of about $45,000 per year has been HVWP's main source of operational funding, enabling the regional group to offer between 7,000 and 8,000 hours of in-service training to teachers from throughout the Hudson Valley over the past five years alone.

But now that federal funding has been drastically cut: NWP was one of the casualties of the standoff in Congress in late 2011 over raising the national debt ceiling and keeping the US government in business a few months longer. . . . The Hudson Valley chapter had its core grant cut to $35,000, and its co-directors, Dr. Tom Meyer, Dr. Mary Sawyer, Bonnie Kaplan and Jacqueline Denu, are now racking their brains for ways to keep its programs afloat. At a meeting of teachers involved in the program following the Saturday Seminar that took place in the OMB on Feb. 4, Meyer announced that the nominal (three-figure) stipends paid to teachers participating in the Summer Institute would be reduced yet further. Following the time-honored NWP model of sharing writing samples and seeking constructive feedback from fellow teachers, he also circulated a draft fundraising letter to be distributed among the community of educators who have benefited from the program in the past.

Judging by the enthusiasm and engagement of the teachers at the Saturday Seminar, there's plenty of "buy-in" to be found — not only among English teachers, but also in other subject areas where the ability to write is crucial to success in the academic world and beyond. Workshops at the seminars are typically conducted by teachers who have participated in one or more of the Summer Institutes, and they always seem to be looking for new techniques for teaching literacy skills — including hands-on methods that work better for kids who are "visual learners."

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Read Teachers share literacy tips and tricks at Hudson Valley Writing Project's free seminars at the New Paltz Times.

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