National Writing Project

Director's Update

By: Richard Sterling
Publication: The Voice, Vol. 7, No. 5
Date: November-December 2002

Summary: An update from Executive Director Richard Sterling on new resources from and about NWP, and some thoughts on the increasing visibility of writing in the current educational climate.


Dear friends and colleagues,

It seems hard to believe that this year’s National Writing Project Annual Meeting, in Atlanta, will mark the 25th year of such a gathering of writing project sites. Next year, the meeting in San Francisco will mark the beginning of the 30th anniversary year for NWP. The good news is that these important anniversaries may also mark the beginning of a new era in the importance of writing for all students and the importance of the NWP teachers-teaching-teachers model of professional development.

Writing project sites continue to produce excellent work all across the country. This work is becoming ever more visible, as evidenced by a number of new publications. A new book from Teachers College Press, Inside the National Writing Project: Connecting Network Learning and Classroom Teaching by Ann Lieberman and Diane Wood, highlights the work of two sites—the UCLA Writing Project in California and the Oklahoma State University Writing Project—as well as our model. This book will be available in November. Meanwhile, from NWP’s offices, the first four monographs in the NWP at Work series, written by directors and teacher-consultants from Mississippi, Vermont, New York, and North Carolina, have just been released. And Breakthroughs: Classroom Discoveries About Teaching Writing, a selection of 25 articles from past issues of The Quarterly, is hot off the press this month. Although these publications represent only a small sample of the collective work coming out across the network, they are continuing evidence that writing project leaders write.

Added to this is the fact that, as many of you know, Educational Testing Service has announced that starting in 2005, the SAT will include a writing test. This change, along with the increased attention to literacy generally, may well provide NWP with an opportunity to offer a more complete picture of the need for good writing instruction for all students. With greater visibility for the teaching of writing may well come significant demands on each local writing project. Over the next several years, we will need to discuss how we can and should respond to a potential increase in demands for our work across the country. We’ll need to work together to respond to the needs of teachers, to increase our ability to prepare students for these exams, and yet to remain true to the principles of good teaching that are at the heart of the writing project.

As I have said before, I believe that now, more than ever, the education of our students is of the highest priority. And we know that writing project teachers are among the strongest teachers in the nation, and that they are enabling students to become more aware, more knowledgeable, and more compassionate through writing. As a national network, we are bound together by our commitment to learn from and to teach each other for the ultimate benefit of our nation’s young people.

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