UWF to host National Writing Project summer institute for educators

The University of West Florida and Escambia County School District are set to host a Summer Invitational Institute for educators June 8-25, 2015, as part of ongoing efforts to become a National Writing Project site.

The three-week workshop invites teachers to become students, immersing participants in engaging writing activities to create innovative and motivating curriculum for their own classrooms.

A NWP fellow herself, Dr. Susan James, assistant professor of teacher education and educational leadership at UWF, is leading the charge to bring the project to Pensacola. Having taught at the elementary through high school level for 18 years, James has seen first-hand the lack of confidence in writing among students – and teachers.

“It is critical for teachers to see themselves as writers before becoming a facilitator of writing in the classroom,” James said. “Once I saw I could write and model my writing for students, I realized what I had been missing in my instruction.”

UWF has worked closely with the Escambia County School District to bring this opportunity to Northwest Florida, partnering with Elementary English Language Arts Specialist Kelly Aeppli-Campbell to write the NWP application. James said the collaboration is critical, commending her colleague for her knowledge of the district and unique needs of its teachers and students.

“We are excited to partner with UWF to bring the NWP Summer Invitational Institute to Escambia County. This presents us with an excellent opportunity for our teachers to learn more about teaching writing from an outstanding training team without having to travel,” explained Aeppli-Campbell. “This experience will ultimately help our students become better writers.”

There are nearly 200 university-based NWP sites across the United States. UWF is the fourth site in Florida, improving writing and learning in area schools by providing professional development and leadership to local teachers.

In its inaugural year, the institute will welcome between 20 and 25 area educators to be trained as NWP fellows, with writing instruction in math, science, language arts and social studies facilitated by the UWF Department of Teacher Education and Educational Leadership. Additionally, National Book Award author Kimberly Willis Holt will lead sessions via Skype.

Teachers will return to their classrooms with fresh ideas for the new school year, ready to share their knowledge with students and pass along instruction to future institute fellows.

“Because the National Writing Project is a network of sites that will be anchored at UWF, we can not only serve teachers across all disciplines at all levels (K-16), we will also have the opportunity to collaborate with other universities who house NWP sites,” James said.

“It is the spark of NWP at the University of West Florida that will allow us to see its vision come alive in our city, ‘where every person is an accomplished writer, engaged learner and active participant in a digital, interconnected world.’”

For more information about the UWF and ECSD National Writing Project, please contact Dr. Susan James at