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English, Speech, and Communications Teacher,
Jan Knispel
      Valentine Public High School
Instructor Mid-Plains Community College, North Platte

  • Nebraska Writing Project Connections:
  • Jan’s Professional Connections:
  • Connecting Jan to Publications, Presentations, and
    Professional Accomplishments:  
  • A Rural Teacher Staying Connected: Nebraska Writing Project
    Connecting in Jan’s Classroom:
  • Developing as a Teacher-Leader and Professional

 

“As educators--people who are responsible for creating the next generation’s understanding of the world—it is important that we have the opportunity to, not only express ourselves, but also to find ways to help teach students how to express themselves in a world in which technology is expanding rapidly and we need to communicate with  who live continents away from us, not just blocks. If we are going to make it possible for the United States to remain a viable country and Nebraska to remain a viable economic and social entity, we have to have people who can communicate across distances through  writing”



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Nebraska Writing Project Connections:

  • Member of NeWP Advisory Board
  • Co-Facilitated two-week Nebraska Writing Project rural workshop
  • Has been involved with the Nebraska Writing Project since 1989

Jan’s Professional Connections:

  • 38 Years of High School English, Speech, and Communication Teaching
  • Language Arts Department Head, Valentine High School
  • Heads Valentine Middle School and Valentine High School Language Arts department, grades 6-12
  • Instituted use of web-based course work for Expository Writing/Freshman Composition and Applied  Communications II, Valentine High School
  • Board Member of the Nebraska Speech Communications and Theater Association

Connecting Jan to Publications, Presentations, and Professional Accomplishments:  

  • Published in the Nebraska Language Arts Bulletin, 2005 
  • Teacher of Distinction for Nebraska Presidential Scholar, Jolene Callaway, 1993.
  • Cherry County High School Teacher of the Year 1992.
  • Presenter to The Nebraska School Board Association
  • Selected for National Endowment to the Humanities Seminar, Writing about Literature, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado.
  • Presented repeatedly at the Nebraska Educational Technology Conference
  • Presented repeatedly at the Nebraska Northeast Network Consortium
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A Rural Teacher Staying Connected:Jan Knispel and friend

  • Through the wide variety of educators she has met through the Nebraska Writing Project, Jan is able to stay abreast of  state-wide initiatives and curriculum, and has been able to feel she as some influence with the Nebraska State Department of Education.
  • As a teacher in a rural school, with an English department of only three teachers, the Nebraska Writing Project has allowed Jan to know and work with “people in places where she is not or may have never been.”
  • Teachers have little opportunity to see other teachers at work in their classrooms and freely discuss what instructional methods and projects are working well in others’ classrooms and why. For Jan The Nebraska Writing Project provides a venue for this kind of collaborative work and sharing and, as she freely admits, “she’s always willing to steal, as fast as she can, something that she thinks is going to be beneficial to her and her students.”

 

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For Jan,  the Heart of the Nebraska Writing Project’s critical value Is its focus on the individual teacher as someone who is inherently creative, who needs to feed “those creative juices” and who consequently can “foster those innate creators in her students.”

Nebraska Writing Project Connecting in Jan’s Classroom:

  • Students in Jan’s class have the opportunity to see her as a writer, not just a teacher of writing.  
  • By writing with her students, showing them her work in progress, and sharing her published work with them, she is better able to empathize with the kind of intellectually challenging work she is asking her students to do and as a result of this empathy, her students are more able to trust in her authority as an instructor of writing.
  • “Students previous to having the teacher-writer in the classroom—the kind of teacher that comes from the NeWP—only saw their teachers as red-penners. They didn’t see their teachers as creative artists. But when students see their teachers as creative artists, they believe that you can help them become creative in their writing too.”
  • As a result of her Nebraska Writing Project involvement, Jan has engaged her students in writing marathons and encouraged students to engage in place-conscious writing as she asks them to write about their home communities and takes them outside of the classroom to write in places like Centennial Hall in Valentine.

 

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