Campus News Society & Culture

Area teachers participate in UGA’s Red Clay Writing Project

Athens, Ga. – While most students in Athens and Northeast Georgia have been enjoying summer vacations, some of their teachers have been in the classroom, expanding their knowledge of how to best teach writing.

Twenty-two area teachers participated as Fellows in the Red Clay Writing Project Summer Institute in the University of Georgia College of Education. The teachers met for daylong sessions to complete the course work.

With funding from the U.S. Department of Education, these local teachers joined 3,000 others attending RCWP Summer Institutes across the country. The participants will join a national network of teachers who will continue their learning about writing pedagogy through Connect, the National Writing Project’s social networking and online learning space, as well as through face-to-face learning opportunities.

Co-directed by local university faculty and classroom teachers, the Fellows shared their expertise and heard the latest in research on how to better teach writing. They also expanded their own personal and professional writing, based on the belief that teachers of writing must be writers themselves.

The Fellows for the 2012 Summer Institute were: Andrew Dean, Mountain View High School; Mary Katherine Ford, Hopkins Elementary School; Lauren King, Meadowcreek Elementary School, and Cheryl Brown, Notre Dame Academy (Gwinnett County); Audrey Smith, Westside Middle School; and Stephanie Schaefer, Apalachee High School (Barrow County); Elizabeth Dunlap, Fair Oaks Elementary School (Cobb County); Elizabeth Friese, Michelle Falter, Marsha Francis and Stephanie P. Jones (UGA); Jacqueline Saindon (Gainesville State College); and Gillian Miller, Clarke Central High School; Helene Halstead, Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School; Kate Smith, J.J. Harris Elementary School; Nicola Tulk, Pathways to Success; and Tanya Hudson, Chase Street Elementary School (Clarke County).

“My greatest appreciation for Red Clay’s Summer Institute lies in the community I was able to build,” said Halstead of Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School. “The value of such a community cannot be measured, as it will hold me accountable, give me a network of writers to share ideas and ask questions, and inspire me to be aware of all aspects of the world around me.”

“RCWP was a transformative experience,” said Friese of UGA. “Learning from and connecting with other teachers who care about writing, social justice and inquiry will change my practice for years to come.”

“I enjoyed the Red Clay Summer Institute immensely,” said Saindon, who has taught for UGA and Gainesville State College in Oconee County. “We read from authors on writing, explored ways to write and continue writing, and wrote every day. We examined topics of interest related to teaching and learning, explored digital literacy projects and created one of our own. But perhaps the best part of the experience was meeting with so many teachers who shared our passion for writing, teaching and social justice. This was a life-changing experience for me, and it will help my writing and teaching practices.”

“Our slogan is ‘Good things grow in Red Clay,’ and the summer institutes are where such professional growth begins,” said Bob Fecho, a UGA professor of language and literacy education and RCWP co-director, along with his UGA colleagues, JoBeth Allen and Stephanie Jones.

National research studies have shown that professional development programs designed and delivered by NWP sites have a positive effect on the writing achievement of students across grade levels, schools and contexts. To learn more about this study, see