-- Feeling artistically stifled, Grace Christian Elementary teacher
Christina Thornhill applied to the South Mississippi Writing Project's
Summer Institute to tap into her "inner creative resources."
What the Writing
Institute at The University of Southern Mississippi offered, she
said, was "that and much more."
weeks of collaborating with a diverse group of K-12 teachers to
enhance their ability to help students become successful learners,
Thornhill left the summer program with a "renewed awareness
that everyone has a story to tell."
away new friendships, confidence and excitement about bringing new
ideas to my students and peers, thanks to the Writing Institute,"
11 other teachers from south Mississippi representing various disciplines
spent the better part of last month (June 9-30) sharing and reflecting
on the uses of writing in their own classrooms. Offering opportunities
for classroom research as well as personal and professional rejuvenation,
the institute was created for teachers who want to improve their
own writing as well as their students'.
a teacher at Oak Grove Middle School, said he entered the institute
to meet other teachers who wanted to become better teachers of writing
and to share ideas with them. "What I took away from the experience
was a better understanding of the writing process and how to address
it with my students. I also understand the importance of building
a community with my colleagues in order to make our students better
readers and writers," Gray said.
the course, participants can earn up to six hours of graduate credit
at Southern Miss -- at no cost. For some, this is the first step
to furthering their educations, said program coordinator Darcie
of teachers get this credit, and that's what gets them started in
graduate school. When you're in the classroom teaching all the time,
it's hard to think about going back to school yourself, so in many
ways, this programs helps them reconnect with Southern Miss,"
the program begins in early spring. A committee of teachers selects
applicants for interviews with Summer Institute directors, and from
this pool, 16 teachers are selected. This summer, the participants
also included Deborah Ainsworth, Prentiss Christian; Heather Carlisle,
teacher candidate; Hollie Gore, North Forrest Elementary; Lisa Hogue,
Grace Christian Elementary; Carressia Paige King, Bay Springs High;
Sherry Kinkopf, Collins Middle School; Melissa Perez Sanzin, Bay
Springs High; Maureen Philpot, Perry Central; Lori Pruitt, Mt. Olive
High; and Tammy Walters, Oak Grove Lower Elementary.
In May, summer
participants attended an orientation meeting in which they received
books, handouts and overview materials. Then, during the summer
program, the teachers presented successful demonstration lessons
borrowed from their own classrooms that combined both writing theory
One of the
most appealing aspects of the institute, according to the project's
co-director, Kim Walker, is the opportunity for teachers to explore
and develop their own personal and professional writing. "Summer
fellows work in small response groups to develop, revise and edit
several papers," Walker said. "Each person then chooses
several pieces to be published in an anthology, along with their
the institute, affiliated with the National Writing Project and
the Mississippi Writing/Thinking Institute, is both "challenging
and deeply rewarding." As summer fellows grow personally and
professionally, she said, they quickly form a strong community through
their writing, discussions and participation in each other's demonstration
community is the foundation of the South Mississippi Writing Project.
Through a network of summer fellows both past and present, opportunities
for professional growth continue even after the Summer Institute
is over, as teachers grow as educators, leaders and spokespersons
for educational reform," Walker said.