WINCHESTER — The Shenandoah Valley Writing Project has been awarded two grants to expand its program.

The project, which is part of Shenandoah University, was awarded a $20,000 grant that will be used to provide support to project teacher consultants in using the College Ready Writing Program as well as a $15,000 grant. The grant will be used for the annual Invitational Leader Institute, which takes place at Shenandoah University.

Both programs are open to educators from kindergarten through the university level who teach any subject.

The Shenandoah Valley Writing Project is part of the National Writing Project, a network of sites around the country that offers high- quality professional development training with an emphasis on writing, according to Shenandoah Valley Writing Project Director Mary Tedrow.

The College Ready program is also part of the national program. Teachers who complete College Ready through the Shenandoah program, or another site, will then become teacher consultants and work with non-network teachers, such as others in their school districts, to implement the ideas and practices. With the help of the grant, the Shenandoah Valley Writing Project will be able to provide support to more teachers for this program.

The second grant will allow more teachers, especially those from higher-needs schools, to attend the Invitational Leader Institute program.

The Shenandoah Valley Writing Project held its first summer institute in 2005 at Lord Fairfax Community College, according to Tedrow. In 2014, the project partnered with Shenandoah University and held its first institute at the college in 2015. Since its beginning, more than 120 area educators have participated in summer institutes where they learned not only how to improve their own writing, but also how to integrate writing into all content areas for students.

Educators who participate in the institute programs also become teacher consultants and are encouraged to share their knowledge with their co-workers after the program is complete.

“The dynamic we teach in the institute has been around for over 40 years, it’s sort of become the gold standard across the board,” Tedrow said. “It transforms the teachers’ instruction.”

Tedrow believes that by training teachers how to write well, and then having them pass that along to their students, regardless of what the subject matter is, they’re helping make students and teachers more effective.

“Writing is important in all content areas,” Tedrow said, “but in recent years teachers have pushed writing to the side because it takes a long time. As a result, students’ skills have suffered.”

Since 2016, the institute has partnered with The Children’s Literature Conference at Shenandoah University to focus on helping teachers to improve their own writing.

According to Tedrow, this part of the program involves the teachers learning from authors about their own writing process.

“It’s very different from what is taught in a traditional classroom,” Tedrow said.

The Shenandoah Valley Writing Project is accepting applications for both the summer and the new year-round institutes. Tedrow said interested teachers must apply, then be interviewed and selected. Applications are available at shenandoahwritingproject.org. Tedrow said the interview process for the summer institutes has begun, but applications will be taken until the program begins, so teachers may still apply.

Although there is a $2,000 fee to attend the institute, Tedrow said school districts usually help teachers with the fee.

Dates for the institutes are available on the website. The summer institute will take place in June and July. The year-round institute takes place on various weekends from September through March. Tedrow said this schedule is more convenient for many teachers since it is more spread out.

— Contact Julia Kazar at jkazar@winchesterstar.com

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