Christine McCartney contributes this letter to Congress and #blog4nwp post.
I am writing as a teacher-consultant at the Hudson Valley Writing Project at the State University at New Paltz, where for three years I have participated in and facilitated professional development activities for teachers that have improved student performance and writing skills as well as the quality of teaching. On behalf of students and teachers in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, I request your support to reestablish funding for the National Writing Project.
As a teacher of English Language Arts at Newburgh Free Academy, a high-needs city school district, I work with a diverse population of students with varying socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. Because I choose to work with students placed in “Regents Prep” level classes (a designation based on their performance on one test, on one specific day in eighth grade) I find that the reading, writing, and comprehension levels in my classroom usually vary greatly. I am always looking for new strategies to engage resistant/struggling learners. The opportunities I have through the Hudson Valley Writing Project to share and develop exemplary literacy practices have helped me create a classroom community which supports literacy and helps students develop both a voice and a means to deliver it.
From a professional development standpoint, the Hudson Valley Writing Project has strengthened the ideologies which guide my interactions both inside and out of the classroom; through Saturday Seminars and Summer Institutes hosted by the HVWP, I have come to further recognize the benefits of sharing successful literacy practices not only with teachers in my own school, but in the larger Hudson Valley teaching community as a whole. Through the Writing Project, I have been able to lead professional development, even outside of the English Language Arts professional community to bring important writing and thinking strategies into other disciplines. I was awarded an Excellence in Teacher Leadership award from the district in my fourth year of teaching specifically because of the stance towards professional learning and sharing of ideas that I developed as a direct result of my interactions with the Hudson Valley Writing Project community.
Without the NWP, my district would lose an invaluable partner in education for students, as well as an excellent resource for teachers looking to better their practice through quality professional development. Providing teachers in urban districts with the support they need with which to deliver successful literacy practices is crucial to the education of our students. The National Writing Project is too successful at doing so to allow it to go unfunded. I welcome the opportunity to answer any questions or to speak with you directly about the importance of the Hudson Valley Writing Project and the National Writing Project and thank you for your attention to this matter.