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Writing Program Invites Competitive Applicants

Writing Program Invites Competitive Applicants


The Seven Valleys Writing Project (SVWP) will accept applications for its 2012 Summer Institute, a workshop seminar for all teachers across the region in all fields of study.

Applications for the competitive program are due Saturday, June 2, and an orientation session will be held Wednesday, May 16, at the Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House, located at 29 Tompkins St. The three-week institute will be held at Main Street SUNY Cortland, an extension facility the College operates at 9 Main St. in downtown Cortland, from Monday, July 9 to Friday, July 27. 

The SVWP is a National Writing Project (NWP) site based at SUNY Cortland. Now in its fifth year, the SVWP’s Summer Institute refines the learning and writing skills of educators through a “teachers teaching teachers” model, explained Project Director David Franke, a SUNY Cortland professor of English and professional writing.

During the institute SUNY Cortland faculty members, who lead one of the largest teacher-education programs in the country, will speak to the importance of professional writing, new media technology, classroom teaching and learning techniques.

Program participants will develop personal and professional writing projects, practice strategies for teaching with the new Common Core literacy standards, interact with technology, and learn small-group leadership skills, Franke noted. Both novice and experienced teachers in all disciplines and levels K-12, are invited to apply.

Up to 16 applicants will be accepted into the summer session. Up to six graduate credit hours through SUNY Cortland are available and all books, loaned computers and parking will be provided free of cost. Stipends of up to $1,200 will be available for teachers in need of tuition assistance.

Under-represented groups in teaching, including male elementary school teachers and ethnic minorities, are encouraged to apply.

The Summer Institute emphasizes action research and reflective practice, Franke said.

 “Those who apply tend to be creative, pragmatic and solution-oriented,” he said. “Together, teachers develop their personal writing, their self-chosen research projects and their leaderships skills.”

 “The program was transformational for me,” said Kathryn Cernera, a teacher at Dewitt Middle School in Ithaca, N.Y., and the associate director of the SVWP. “I learned how to use writing to inquire into my own professional questions and also how to use writing to help students learn in all my classes.”

A matching grant from SUNY Cortland and the National Writing Project funds the program.

In 2008, SUNY Cortland was approved for long-term, renewable federal Department of Education funding to start a local branch of the NWP. The SVWP, which claims the Summer Institute as its centerpiece, serves 79 school districts in more than seven counties throughout the region, including Cortland, Madison, Chenango, Broome, Tioga, Tompkins, Cayuga and Onondaga counties.

Franke said the partnership has reached hundreds of teachers in the Central NewYork area and more than 17,000 students have worked with a Seven Valleys Writing Project teacher since the project began five years ago. 

Former Seven Valleys Writing Project participants work in school districts that include: Auburn, Candor, Cortland, Dryden, Homer, Ithaca, Lansing, Port Byron, Tully, Windsor and several others. Statistics show that teacher retention is strongly increased by NWP participation, and a 2011 study reveals that “in every case the improvement of students taught by teachers who participated in NWP programs exceeded that of students whose teachers were not participants.”

For application information, visit the Seven Valleys Writing Project website. For more information, contact Franke at (607) 753-5945.