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Released June 18, 2003


LONG BEACH -- Eighteen teachers from south Mississippi have elected to spend their summer vacations in the classrooms of The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast in Long Beach.

The teachers are taking part in a special summer institute known as the Live Oak Writing Project, which operates on the model of teachers-teaching-teachers. After their training is complete, these teachers will provide professional development for hundreds of their peers in Mississippi's public and private schools.

"At first, I was a little worried about giving up most of my summer," said Magnolia Park Elementary third grade teacher Vanessa McKee. "But now, I am glad I came. I am enjoying this thoroughly, and more importantly, I am looking forward to taking what I've learned back to my students and my fellow teachers."

The Live Oak Writing Project, established in 2001, is a collaborative program of Southern MissGC and south Mississippi's schools dedicated to improving writing and the teaching of writing in all grades and across all disciplines. Participants in the project comprise a network of exemplary classroom teachers -- kindergarten through university -- who conduct professional development programs for teachers and administrators throughout the summer and school year.

"The teachers in this program are the cream of the crop," said Dr. Elaine White, director of the Live Oak Writing Project and assistant professor of English at Southern MissGC.

"All of these teachers have been selected through an extensive interview and application process, and they come highly recommended by their principals and colleagues. These teachers already do a lot of what good teachers need to do. This program builds on that and helps give them the tools that allow them to become even better teachers."

The Live Oak Writing Project focuses on the teaching of writing for practicing teachers, while providing a model for ongoing professional development that builds independent local programs.

"In this program, I am becoming a better writer both personally and professionally," McKee said. "The enthusiasm in this program is contagious - I am learning from the other teachers, and together, I think we will all be able to take what we've learned and make a positive impact in the writing of our students."

Southern MissGC's program is an affiliate of the National Writing Project, which is composed of sites in 49 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The Live Oak Writing Project is also a part of the Mississippi State Network and an affiliate of the Mississippi Thinking/Writing Institute.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM