The University of Massachusetts Amherst

WMWP Programs

WMWP's annual Summer Leadership Institute brings together outstanding teachers who work with students in all academic content areas and at all grade levels, pre‑K through college. Supported by the WMWP facilitators and each other, these teachers spend three weeks immersed in writing, reading, and reflective inquiry.

During the following school year, they conduct action-research projects in their own classrooms and come together for three reunion meetings. At the end of this process, they become WMWP Teacher-Consultants. In this capacity they may provide professional development to schools for WMWP; present their research in local, regional, and national venues; and contribute to the ongoing growth of WMWP.

In this way, the Summer Leadership Institute represents the first leg in what thousands of National Writing Project teachers around the country have described as a career-transforming journey.

Co-Director of the Summer Leadership Institute: Chris Rea

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The Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing is a UMass Amherst Graduate School credential sponsored by WMWP in cooperation with the Department of English and Division of Continuing and Professional Education.

Participants complete courses totaling 15 graduate credits in writing and literacy pedagogy courses to develop their capacity as teachers and teacher-leaders in the field, including the Summer Leadership Institute. The certificate can be completed in approximately two years, but teachers make work at their own pace.

Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing Coordinator: Bruce M. Penniman

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The National Writing Project (NWP) approach to improving teaching is a research-based professional development model based on a set of core principles and practices focused on improving student achievement in all content areas, grades Pre-K through 16.

WMWP, NWP's local writing project serving Western Massachusetts schools and districts, offers a rich array of programs, in a variety of formats.

Coordinator of Professional Development & Consulting: Jane Baer-Leighton

For more information, please cleck the Professional Development & consulting tab above.

The WMWP Teacher Programs Committee organizes professional growth opportunities open to all teachers outside of the school day and year.

The committee hosts the annual Best Practices in the Teaching of Writing conference in the fall and the annual Spring Symposium.

Summer programs include the Teachers as Writers Institute and the Professional Writing Workshop, which are offered on a rotating schedule.

Co-Director of Teacher Programs: Emily Lent Hemingway

WMWP hosts a Best Practices in the Teaching of Writing conference on a Saturday each fall. The conference provides an opportunity for new Teacher-Consultants to share the Teacher Inquiry Workshops they have presented during the Summer Leadership Institute. Other WMWP presenters offer sessions as well.

The conference provides a keynote speech during the luncheon, and the Pat Hunter Award for Outstanding Teacher Leadership is presented at that time. The luncheon also serves as the graduation ceremony for the Certificate in the Teaching of Writing program.

Co-Director for Teacher Programs: Emily Lent Hemingway

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WMWP's annual Spring Symposium takes place in March on a weekday afternoon and evening at a local university campus.

The program includes two rounds of workshops on current issues in education, a light supper, and a keynote speech. The Charles Moran Teacher Leadership Fellowship award is presented at the symposium.

Co-Director for Teacher Programs: Emily Lent Hemingway

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WMWP youth and family writing programs offer students the opportunity to uncover creativity in multiple genres with more depth and scope than class time may allow. These program also provide teachers opportunities to improve their practice and build their professional learning networks by sharing ideas and strategies for engaging writing instruction. Youth writing programs can provide teachers and students respite from the focus on high-stakes test preparation with exploration and enjoyment of creative writing.

WMWP youth and family writing programs vary from year to year, depending on contributions and grant funding. Programs currently include a spring Youth Writing Adventure on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus and a summer writing and history camp presented in partnership with the Springfield Armory National History Site and the Veterans Education Network.

Co-Director for Youth and Family Programs: Jennifer Murphy

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The Outreach team publishes a fall and spring newsletter, Connections, that highlights WMWP events and activities. Teacher-Consultants contribute articles and photographs to the newsletter as well as to the Daily Hampshire Gazette's monthly Chalk Talk feature.

Teachers can also follow WMWP on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for frequent updates about news and events and visit WMWP's YouTube channel.

Co-Director for Outreach and Social Media: Kevin Hodgson and Samantha Briggs

Central to the WMWP mission is the development of programs and opportunities that are accessible and relevant to teachers, students, and families from diverse backgrounds, paying attention to issues of race, gender, language, class, and culture and how these are linked to teaching and learning.

The Language, Culture, and Diversity program aims to provide teachers with relevant professional development courses that prepare them to deliver high-quality instruction, which is a basic human right and a cornerstone of equity, to all students. A diverse teacher corps skilled in providing access for all enriches our schools and communities.

WMWP currently offers a two-part course Reaching and Teaching All Learners: Pathways to Recertification: Supporting ELLs & Students with Diverse Learning Styles, which fulfills the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's recertification requirements (15 PDPs on working with ELLs and 15 PDPs on working with diverse learners). See the Professional Development & Consulting page for details.

WMWP also offers ELL leadership institutes and workshops related to multicultural education and narrowing achievement gaps.

Co-Director for Language, Culture, and Diversity: Momodou Sarr

WMWP strongly believes that our cultural conceptions of literacy are changing as a result of the outgrowth of technology and digital media in the lives of young people. Texting, blogging, tweeting, social networking, gaming, and other elements of the daily use of media and technology in the worlds of students and teachers make for a rich environment in which writing has never been more central to the ways we communicate.

WMWP teachers explore, use, and innovate with technology as a mean for enhancing learning with writing and composition at the center of that inquiry. The WMWP Technology Team works to integrate technology components into professional development, facilitates workshops, and leads digital youth programming on a regular basis.

Co-Director for Technology: Tom Fanning

WMWP is the host of The Olga Lengyel Institute's ( only satellite institute in New England. This one-week institute, held at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, includes presentations by Holocaust survivors and authors, field trips to cultural sites, books and teaching resources, and rich discussions. Three credits are available.

The institute is free, and dormitory rooms are available at low cost for teachers traveling from a distance. 

Institute Director: Cara Crandall

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