Friday, April 11, 2014

Hill Central Poetry Slam, 2014 - It Doesn't Get Better Than This! @writingproject @cwpfairfield

As a classroom teacher in Louisville, I fell in love with the National Writing Project model for its willingness to invest in me as a professional and to support my students and their writing dreams. In an era when public school teachers are being reprimanded and blamed for everything wrong with national inequities in education, I believe in the mission of NWP more than ever.

Why? The logic is simple. As a Director of a Connecticut site, I can compete for funding in order to support teaching excellence through professional development and providing resources for the dreams educators have for the young people they work with.


I am fortunate that CWP@Fairfield earned a 2013-2014 High Needs Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant where I could collaboratively invest in the efforts of teachers at Hill Central. Over the last two years, I've been able to support their vision of what is possible in an urban school...yes, one traditionally viewed within a deficit construction (my friend, Marcelle Haddix, wrote it best - too often society subscribes a 'can't do' attitude upon young people when in truth they are full of 'can do' possibilities).

Early in the year, I invested in teachers to attend literacy conferences and they brought bac new knowledge to share with their colleagues. I provided professional development on writing processes, helped them to build community, and tapped into their belief that every student deserves to have integrity, self-esteem, a sense of humor, self-awareness, focus, responsibility and Ubuntu (a philosophy that community matters). The teachers have been composing writing for digital stories and author Kwame Alexander has authenticated the importance of writing.

Then, yesterday, over 25 youth performed at the 3rd Annual Hill Central Poetry Slam in front of an audience of over a 100 spectators, including New Haven's Mayor, Toni Harp. With a workshop of the middle school youth (thanks Attallah Sheppard and Performing For Change), collaboration with teachers, and support of literacy leaders, CWP-Fairfield helped to make the 2014 Slam an irreplaceable experience. The energy in the school right now, just days away from spring break), is off the hook!

I am a proud man today. I am humbled that I've had this opportunity to invest in teachers in the very same way Jean Wolph at the University of Louisville invested in me.

This is a testimony that ALL kids can achieve and ALL teachers can make a difference when they are treated as professionals. This is a fact that ALL schools can be awesome when a community pulls together to make them this way. This is all the evidence I need that public schools matter what Governor Malloy wants us to believe. Imagine if more was invested unto Connecticut teachers in the way that NWP has allowed me to do. They are professionals who deserve the respect that the National Writing Project gives. In my magic land, every teacher would have the opportunity to have such influence.

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