Papillion-La Vista, a large school district on the southwest edge of Omaha, has entered a multi-year partnership with the Nebraska Writing Project. During the 2004-05 school year, NeWP is leading three Embedded Institutes for almost 70 teachers in the district. In summer 2005, Papillion-La Vista will host a Summer Institute for its teacher leaders in writing education. "This is an exciting venture," writes Jef Johnston, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum. "I'm really excited about how this is proceeding. There is a great deal of enthusiasm from our teachers."
The 2004-05 Embedded Institutes each involve 20-30 teachers in recognized Nebraska Writing Project activities. Participating teachers write themselves each week and share their writing with other teacher writers. The participants engage in professional inquiry to study and apply models of successful writing teaching, and share their best teaching practices with one another.
Papillion-La Vista is funding one Embedded Institute directly. This institute meets bimonthly at the Papillion-La Vista district office, and is being led by Linda Beckstead, English & Journalism teacher at Bellevue West and past Associate Coordinator of NeWP, Anne Walden, Gifted Educator at Rousseau Elementary School and member of NeWP's After School Writing Circles Research Team, and Mary Birky, English teacher at Papillion High School. The 20 participants in the district-wide institute were invited on recommendation of the district because of their leadership in writing education.
The other two Embedded Institutes are funded by grants. These institutes are located at the two Title I elementary schools, and each involves most of the instructional staff at the schools. At G Stanley Hall Elementary School, 30 staff members are participating, led by a facilitation team of NeWP's Spencer-Funded Research team on Elementary Eduction: Deb Coyle & Connie Healey of Arnold Elementary School and Shawn Williams of Elliot Elementary, assisted by Michelle Rezek from G Stanley Hall. At La Vista West Elementary School, 20 staff members are participating, led by a facilitation of NeWP Co-Directors: Kim Ridder of Scott Middle School and Kris Kuhn of Seward High, assisted by Diane Rasmussen from La Vista West.
After the first meeting of the G Stanley Hall Embedded Institute, Michelle Rezek posted this message to the leaders' listserve: "Wow.....The G. Stanley Hall Institute is off to an amazing start. Deb, Sean and Connie were terrific. They have every single participant excited about writing. Also no where in the Users Guide was there a 'Kleenex Alert.' I think you should consider adding it. Who knew writing could lead to such powerful emotions!"
Those of us in the NeWP network know what Michelle is talking about, and are a bit envious of the 70 teachers in this year's program.
For information on starting an Embedded Institute or Partnership in your district, click here.