CRWP Attends National Writing Project Annual Conference ’09 in Philadelphia

Sara Beauchamp-Hicks, CRWP Technology Liaison, presents to an audience of NWP teachers at the Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.
Sara Beauchamp-Hicks, CRWP Technology Liaison, presents to an audience of NWP teachers at the Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

The Chippewa River Writing Project ended its first year with a new beginning. Members of the CRWP leadership team attended the National Writing Project’s Annual Meeting this past month, their first visit as an official NWP site.

The three-day event took place at Philadelphia’s Downtown Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center from November 19th to the 21st, and was held in conjunction with the NCTE’s annual convention.  Participants were able to attend a variety of interactive learning sessions, as well as socialize and meet other members of NWP sites from around the country.

Kathy Kurtze, one of CRWP’s K-12 co-directors, felt positive about her experience.  “I loved meeting people from all over the United States and sharing our passion for the Writing Project.  Learning from my peers, hearing their stories, and sharing in their successes was exhilarating.”

CRWP joins nine other sites from around the nation in being newly welcomed into the NWP for the year of 2009.  This makes CRWP the eleventh site representing the state of Michigan.  All sites were welcomed at a general session hosted by NWP Executive Director Sharon J. Washington, with a featured poetry reading from 2001-3 National Poet Laureate Billy Collins.

“For the Chippewa River Writing Project, we had an exciting end to our first official year as a National Writing Project site when we were introduced at the NWP Annual Meeting in Philadelphia,” states CRWP Director, Troy Hicks. “I am thrilled that we were able to bring nearly all of our leadership team for this first annual meeting, and look forward to sharing the great ideas that we learned there as we plan for 2010.”

CRWP Technology Liaison Sara Beauchamp-Hicks, who facilitated a session on integrating newer technologies into site leadership,  commented on the overall experience. “For me the annual meeting is an energizing event.  I love the feeling of playing a small part in such a monumental educational movement.  There is definitely something special about all the teachers who are involved in the NWP — and you can feel that energy when you attend the annual meeting.”

Friday morning also marked the date of the National Writing Projects of Michigan Site Leaders Annual Meeting, which five members of the CRWP Leadership Team were able to attend. Site leaders discussed future development and planned projects for Michigan sites up into the coming year, including the possibility of a summer retreat at CMU next August for the state network.

The NWP Annual Meeting wrapped up Saturday, and CRWP’s six attendees once more returned to work in Michigan, exhilarated by the experience.  CRWP K-12 Co-Director Penny Lew sums up the event: “My first NWP annual meeting was an amazing, inspiring experience, and what great timing!  November is always the month I begin to doubt myself as an educator; the newness of the school year has worn off, and the kids and I are both realizing this isn’t the honeymoon we thought it was.  NWP, however, gave me renewal—refocused my thinking, reminded me of what an important and satisfying vocation I’ve found.”

As CRWP applies for continued funding and plans for its 2010 Summer Institute, the experience that site leaders had at the annual meeting will guide their work and help them prepare for the new year. All look forward to attending NWP’s 2010 Annual Meeting next November in Orlando, Florida.

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