Awards & Recognition
- NCWP Teacher Consultant
- California Teacher of the Year Semifinalist
- Tehama County/Corning Union District Teacher of the Year
- National Writing Project Teacher Inquiry Communities Network Co-Chair
The Writing Project keeps me connected to colleagues who foster passion for learning and teaching in all their iterations, from the craft of writing to the role of technology in the writing classroom. Frankly, they keep my teaching head on straight. For nearly 30 years, the Writing Project’s impact has permeated my professional life. I’ve learned to question and reflect about every detail of teaching students to write, to think, and to care about their ideas. I’ve learned to study my students’ work in order to instruct them for the next steps in their own learning. And when I’m stumped about what in the world to do next? The Writing Project provides opportunities for me to figure it out. We can never know everything there is to know about teaching our students to be thinkers and learners; we all need a professional support system that ‘gets’ our struggles. The Writing Project is my place for making sense of the challenges both students and teachers face as we attempt to improve literacy. We study theories and practices of literacy instruction to make our work better, because that’s what our students deserve.
The Writing Project teaches us that in order to teach writing, we must be writers ourselves. This tenet terrified me. Prior to my involvement with the Invitational Leadership Institute in the Teaching of Writing, my writing was limited to letters of recommendation and the occasional school report. But that changed as I wrote about my students and the events in my classroom. Because of the support of others who felt insecure about their writing too, we learned that we indeed shared a passion for telling our students’ stories—that instead of being defensive about school, we needed to describe what happens. Now, writing is an integral part of my own reflective practice—where I mull over issues and ideas and attempt to make sense of whatever is happening. My Writing Project writing experience gave me confidence to submit articles, grant proposals, a master’s thesis, and book chapters that seemed impossible in my early teaching life.
When I believe in something, I am fearless and my voice is usually the loudest. I believe down to my DNA in the Writing Project and every aspect of its philosophy. And because of this staunch belief, I’ve taken every measure and opportunity to stay connected and involved with colleagues and friends associated with the Writing Project. It’s been my good fortune to work locally, state-wide, and nationally as a Writing Project Teacher Consultant. But, in the end, we’re all professional educators learning from one another. None of us teaches alone. The Writing Project gave me a voice for speaking up and speaking out about teaching.
I believe that everyone has something to say; we only need to be positioned to say it. My teaching role is to make this possible for my students, no matter the difficulty or the individual. Everyone deserves to have their voices heard.
One of my favorite books on the teaching of writing is Teaching Writing in Middle School and High School by Margot Soven. I appreciate her wisdom and logic about writing instruction.