Alexander Fitzgerald, ELA instructor
I'll admit, when I first joined NWP-A I didn't think much of it. In my mind, it was just another workshop and some professional development; luckily, I have been beyond wrong. NWP-A will open up the writer within you, improve your teaching in a way that engages even the shyest of learners, and open students to a world of creativity they never knew could be accessed. Because of NWP-A, my students have seen that they are anything but voiceless - they have the opportunity to earn state recognition for their work, collaborate in workshops with poet laureates, and interact with students from various high schools that share the same interests as them. No matter where I'm teaching, NWP has been so impactful that I will always be sure to be apart of the project.
Catherine Godbold, Lafayette High School 11th and 12th grade English STudent 2019
This program is phenomenal. The summer workshops are so fun, and the wealth of talent in our district’s students astounds me. Plus, teachers and students get to work with renowned poets, writers, and playwrights, masters of the craft. In terms of teaching, I’ve learned so many new and creative ways to approach reading and writing, like using a prompting story and personal narrative to investigate perspectives in argumentative writing. Now I can incorporate creative writing into the curriculum in a way that supports students’ interests and creativity as well as their academic needs. Many of the workshop exercises have also been used in our school’s chapter of the National English Honor Society. Lastly, I’ve rediscovered my own love of writing, and I have written over 100K words of original work since my first summer workshop.
Edward Gauthier, retired teacher, summer institute of 1999
The summer workshop of 1999 got me back into writing. It made me take it much more seriously. Dr. Ann Dobie had a significant influence in my writing skills. So has all the workshops and fellows of the organization. I now write 4 to 6 hours per day, Monday through Friday. I can often be found at Johnston Street Java Coffee shop in the afternoons. Drop by sometimes. I’m always interested in finding critique partners.
Matthew Canone, Summer Institute 2009
The Writing Project really assisted in sharpening my students’ writing because everything from that group experience opened avenues that I didn’t really know existed. It was definitely a game changer.
Katherine Schexnayder, Instructional Leader 2012
AWP’s power is its ability to take an average person, student or teacher, and inspire them to call themselves writers. AWP takes writing out of its box, and breathes it into every aspect of life. In this way, they are able to accomplish the Herculean task of making students college and career ready, while still addressing social and emotional needs by unlocking the healing and therapeutic power of the written word. In other words, they meet the needs of today’s educational climate, but never lose the soul of the humanities in their work. This is life changing for students in their journeys to become adults and for teachers in their journeys to educate the whole child.
In summer of 2011, one of our teaching consultants - Sherrie Jacobs, who taught in St. Martinville - finished our Summer Institute with a new drive and enthusiasm and ended up starting a
HUGE writing group out at her school. The next year, I was able on several occasions to meet this group and do some workshops with them. One of her students was a senior in high school, and just everything you want out of a kid.
Compassionate, funny, unique, outgoing, etc. His enthusiasm was transcendent and contagious. Tragically, for reasons we’ll never
know, he took his life after graduating high school in 2012, leaving behind a legion of broken-hearted friends and teachers. It was earth-shattering news to get. And it was overwhelming when Sherrie asked Toby and myself to visit his classmates just a few days later and lead some writing exercises for them, as they all wanted a chance to come together and do what he loved to do. The student's dad was there, too.
And it reminded me how small I was in the long run, but also how massively important writing can be in the moment. The writing the kids did that day - even before they’d said goodbye to their friend at his funeral - was as profound and healing as any writing I’ve ever seen or heard in 21 years of teaching.
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Mrs. Wood shared a particularly meaningful NWP-A experience and said the organization, “is not just about writing or teaching writing…we do those things, but we also form these incredible, unbreakable, life-long bonds with the people in our group.”
Her favorite part about working with NWP-A is “being in the presence of other writers to hear their brains turn words into a thing of beauty.”
As an English major concentrating in creative writing, Vincent said “the National Writing Project speaks my language!”
Her favorite part about working with NWP-A is “building meaningful relationships with students outside of the traditional classroom environment.”
Mrs. Melancon was involved with NWP-A from 1989-2012! While working with NWP-A, she delivered professional development presentations for Lafayette Parish and parishes around the state of Louisiana and for NCTE and other regional organizations.
Of all his NWP-A memories, he said his favorite was “On the last day of my two-week training we went to Breaux Bridge, and I sat with Dr. Daspit and Wesley Stonicher by the Teche where we wrote episodic fiction. By far, the best memory.”
Broussard’s favorite part about working with NWP-A is “the chance to learn and grow as a teacher.”
Her favorite part about NWP-A is “how inspiring the students are, both to each other and to all of the adults working with them.”
Fitzgerald shared that, “NWP-A has taught me writing strategies that I have seen improve my own writing and has revitalized my joy in writing.
Schexnayder says her favorite part about working with NWP-A is “the meeting of creative and talented minds. I am always amazed by the adults and students who find themselves drawn to NWP-A and find myself more challenged and amazing in my NWP-A endeavors than with any other group of students or peers.”
Through his work with GEAR UP, Dugas has many favorite NWP-A memories including writing events at Hilliard Museum, especially with Dr. Jack Bedell. He found the summer GEAR UP writing camps to be incredible and explained that “the 2019 summer writing camp was great both for my own personal writing and writing with students.”
Wallace says her favorite part about working with NWP-A is “seeing kids become more comfortable with their own writing and in their own skin.”
When asked about her favorite NWP-A memories Ardoin responded, “The Summer institutes were life changing for me. It allowed me to start taking all of my writing and creating something with it. Performing during Word Crawl was a way for me to take emotions in my soul and deal with them. I felt freer after every performance.” Ardoin says becoming a writer has been her favorite part about working with NWP-A.
Ed says his favorite NWP-A memory was from that 1999 summer, where he met Kathleen O’Shaughnessy and the two later began a writer’s critique group named Da Grils. Together, they kept the writing group going for 22 years and the two of them still continue to meet and write with one another.
Breaux states “My NWP-A Summer Institute was paradigm-shifting. It helped to transform me from being a person who happened to fall into teaching after earning two liberal arts degrees, to a real educator who not only saw the beauty of writing, but also the art of writing instruction.”
His favorite part about working with NWP-A: “The people. National Writing Project of Acadiana is an incredible network of passionate, dedicated educators who freely share their time, energy, and resources in the pursuit of the improvement of the teaching of writing in our area schools, as well as the improvement of their own writing. It still amazes me that you can hear a pin drop at various moments in all of our events because everyone is writing.”
Dr. Kreamer says her favorite part about working with NWP-A is “the community that it brings together. I have grown so much as a writer and teacher through working with NWP-A and that wouldn’t have been possible without the network of amazing writers who work with this organization.”
Josh said his favorite part about working with NWP-A is “getting to work with elite members of a profession and trade; NWP-A has very very high standards which means every year I’m able to see the best of the best in Acadiana”.