National Writing Project

Director's Update

By: Richard Sterling
Publication: The Voice, Vol. 8, No. 3
Date: May-June 2003

Summary: An update from Executive Director Richard Sterling.


New Page 1 Dear colleagues and friends,

I would like to thank and congratulate all the writing project directors and teacher-consultants who helped to make the National Writing Project Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C., a tremendous success. More than 150 people from 34 states attended, and many more of you sent letters to your representatives encouraging their support for the NWP. In Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-MS) address to our group at the kickoff to the meeting, he reiterated his commitment to the writing project and highlighted the expanding support that the writing project now garners on Capitol Hill. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), a scientist by training, spoke about the importance of enabling all students to learn to clarify their thinking and to problem-solve through writing. From all of our special guests, we heard about support for the goals of the NWP and the importance of professional development for teachers.

Mark St. John, president of Inverness Research Associates, also reminded us in Washington of a reason the writing project continues to thrive as a vehicle for professional development: we are a model infrastructure that enables local sites to grow continually in their capacity to serve ever larger numbers of teachers. As we explain our work to others, we point to the fact that in 2002, local writing project teacher-leaders worked in 2,783 schools across the country and conducted 6,114 programs. And of course, as we serve more teachers, we continue to learn from and with each other about new ideas and approaches to teaching writing.

Increasingly this learning takes place not only in face-to-face encounters but also in electronic forums. Recently, the NWP Teacher Inquiry Communities Network sponsored University of Maine Writing Project Director Jeff Wilhelm and the site's co-director Tanya Baker in an extended two-week Authors and Issues Online Conference, a discussion of literacy and teacher research. In June, the NWP E-Anthology: Summer Institute Writings and Conversation will again be underway. Facilitated by experienced writing project teacher-consultants, this online forum invites NWP summer institute participants to publish writing about their institute experiences and classroom practices.

But the E-Anthology is only one part of the summer institute mix. This issue of The Voice (see "Summer Institute Special") features articles that focus on other aspects of the institute experience: how to make the institute relevant to teachers representing a variety of grade levels and disciplines; how to ease teachers into writing for publication; indeed, how to help teachers who have never considered themselves writers to become writers. And more.

I look forward to hearing from you about this summer's work and to thinking with you about the future. Our challenge continues to be to provide a writing project site within reach of every teacher in the country and to make writing the cornerstone of every child's education. Best wishes for a great summer of learning and writing.


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