The Shenandoah Valley Writing Project (SVWP) at Shenandoah University has been awarded a $15,000 federal Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) leadership grant, which will support the Invitational Leadership Institute held annually at Shenandoah University since 2015.
This is the second federal grant awarded to the SVWP in 2017 to expand the work of the teacher network. The first $20,000 grant will provide support to SVWP teacher consultants in studying and using the College Ready Writing Program (CRWP). Following the year of study, these teacher consultants will work with non-network teachers in implementing the instructional practices.
Each summer, the SVWP holds a four-week, Invitational Summer Institute for exemplary teachers from throughout the area. Those who attend this writing institute span all content areas, and through the learning process, they become teacher consultants. To date, nearly 130 teachers have been a part of Invitational Summer Institutes in the Shenandoah Valley. These teachers are encouraged to return to their home schools and share best practices. SVWP teacher consultants are in seven of the 14 districts the SVWP site serves.
“We are extremely excited to receive yet another grant to continue the work of the Shenandoah Valley Writing Project at Shenandoah University,” said SVWP Director Mary Tedrow, M.Ed., NBCT, who authored the grant and who also serves as an adjunct at Shenandoah University and Lord Fairfax Community College. “This $15,000 grant will make it possible to include more teachers from the kindergarten through the university levels in our Invitational Summer Institute, where accepted fellows share best practices with the other fellows.”
The shared lessons employ strong literary practices – with an emphasis on writing – and help to deepen and cement student learning in any content area. Additionally, the participants work on their own writing throughout the institute.
This most recent grant will support 12 or more kindergarten to university-level teacher-leaders from diverse educational settings (including high-need schools), who are new to the Writing Project community. The goal of this funding is to equip teachers to lead at their schools and districts and as active participants in an educational landscape of new standards and technological innovation.
The grant will focus, in part, on supporting teachers from nearby West Virginia in their bid to improve writing instruction and the use of writing to learn. The aim is to expand the reach of the SVWP into neighboring districts. As is usual, the Invitational Summer Institute is open to applicants from kindergarten through the university levels in any content area. A focus of the Invitational Summer Institute is on improving teacher writing and instruction while examining the role of writing as a tool for learning.
“We are thrilled that for the second year, our Invitational Summer Institute will partner with the university’s Children’s Literature Conference,” said Shenandoah University’s Director of Teacher Licensure and Professor of Curriculum and Instruction Mary Bowser, Ed.D., who serves as principal investigator and site director for the SVWP.
“The first of the three and a half weeks focuses on ‘Teacher as Writer,’ since it is a project tenet that the best teachers of writing are writers themselves,” she added. “In this first week, teachers will be participating in writing groups, viewing presentations for generating writing, and hearing about process from the award-winning authors who will be on campus for the conference.”
Interested educators can find out more about the program and how to apply for the Invitational Summer Institute at https://shenandoahwritingproject.org/.
More about the Shenandoah Valley Writing Project at Shenandoah University
The Shenandoah Valley Writing Project and Shenandoah University officially partnered in the fall of 2014 and since that time, the network of exemplary teachers has expanded to 128 teacher consultants working in dozens of area schools.
The partnership between the SVWP and Shenandoah University has made it possible to hold a fall conference, which extends the project’s reach to sharing demonstration lessons with a large audience of teachers who are not currently part of the network. In addition, numerous young writers’ workshops, run under the Project Write, Inc. umbrella, have brought more than 150 area school children to campus to develop writing under the guidance of SVWP teacher consultants.
The mission of the SVWP is to improve both writing instruction and the use of writing as a tool to enhance learning in all content areas, from kindergarten to the university setting. The group strives to elevate teachers to teacher-leaders and to raise the professional stature of classroom teachers. It also serves to support and enhance the literacy of the surrounding area through programs for both young writers and adults, in addition to its work with practicing educators.
The SVWP focuses on three core beliefs: 1) all students can and should view themselves as writers; 2) writing is the most effective tool for learning in all content areas; and 3) classroom teachers are the most effective teachers of others in their profession.