UWF in the Community

UWF Emerald Coast Writing Project makes mark on area teachers and youth

The University of West Florida will host the Emerald Coast Writing Project, a program of the National Writing Project, on the Pensacola campus June 11-28.
The National Writing Project, a professional development network, serves teachers of writing in all grade levels and subjects. One of the only four locations in the state of Florida, UWF was established as a National Writing Project Site in 2015.
“The UWF Emerald Coast Writing Project has become a strong force in the training of teachers across the panhandle of Florida,” said Dr. Susan James, UWF associate professor of teacher education and educational leadership, who serves as director of the project. “Each year, more teachers apply, which shows its power and need.”
Each year, UWF welcomes area K-12 teachers to apply for the opportunity to attend a three-week Invitational Summer Institute. Once complete, teachers become teacher consultants for NWP. To date, the University has trained 100 teachers in both Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
This year’s project uses the book “Hope Nation” as its theme. Guest speakers include:
– “Hope Nation” editor Rose Brock, who will speak about working with authors.
– Jeff Zentner, author of “Goodbye Days” and “The Serpent King,” who will discuss the importance of the written word.
– Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of young adult books, who will Skype with teachers about her work.
– Researcher and writer Ralph Fletcher, who will share his insights on teaching writing.
– Chris Crutcher, who will talk about his new book, “Loser’s Bracket.”
– Dr. Bryan Crandall, director of NWP at Fairfield University, who will share his journey working with African American youth and immigrants to the U.S. in his writing project.
Additionally, many teacher consultants from the project’s first three years will facilitate and present lessons.
“This is not your typical workshop,” said James, who herself went through NWP training in 1992. “Becoming part of the NWP network changes everything about a teacher’s method of teaching and interacting with students. Teachers see how to easily provide engaging writing instruction that ties closely to reading instruction, building a strong community of readers and writers.”
In 2017, local teacher consultants spent nearly 2,000 hours training other area teachers. Many present at the state and national level, winning awards for their work. This year’s cohort welcomes 42 teachers from kindergarten to 12th grade, for the first time including adult high.
“As the numbers grow, the work will, too,” James said. “This means our K-12 students will write more and better prepare themselves for college or career.”
ECWP envisions a future where every person is an accomplished writer, engaged learner and active participant in a digitally interconnected world. James said a community of donors has made a difference in the quality of training provided, including Pamela Schwartz, who graduated in program’s first year.
For more information about the UWF Emerald Coast Writing Project, visit uwf.edu/ecwp.