University of Rochester

Rejuvenated Teachers Bring Summer Institute Writing Skills Back to the Classrooms

November 28, 2007

Teachers across the Genesee Valley region are sharing new insights and skills with their fellow teachers and students alike after dedicating a portion of their well-earned summer break to learning new writing and literacy skills.

A committed group of 16 enthusiastic teachers of kindergartners through college students, representing a wide range of area schools and disciplines, participated in the Genesee Valley Writing Project's first-ever invitational Summer Institute. After spending four weeks of writing, reading, workshopping, and sharing classroom practices with each other, they have taken these experiences back to their classrooms to help students improve their writing abilities.

The Genesee Valley Writing Project at the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education is one of the newest sites to join the National Writing Project, a nationwide network of nearly 200 project sites reaching more than 137,000 educators last year, working together to improve writing and learning in America's schools. This year's Summer Institute was directed and facilitated by Meg Callahan, assistant professor at the Warner School.

"The idea of the Summer Institute is that teachers get to be writers and immerse themselves in their craft in order to find renewed inspiration for teaching," said Callahan. "It is also an opportunity for teachers to connect with the academic community, and learn and share new techniques that are essential to enhancing their students' engagement with the writing process. As a result of these experiences, teachers bring new thinking, confidence and enthusiasm to their classrooms."

The enthusiasm can be measured by some of their remarks after attending the 2007 Summer Institute. "Taking part in the Summer Institute was the best thing that I've done for myself in quite some time," said Leslie Laurie-Nicoll, a fourth grade teacher at Le Roy Central School, who completed a children's story that had been tumbling in her head for months leading up to the Summer Institute. "Surrounded by intelligent and passionate educators, I learned, I laughed, and I put myself out there. As a result, I grew as a teacher, a colleague, and as a person."

Participation at the Summer Institute also put teachers back into the shoes of their students and helped them to relive the fulfillment and therapeutic value that writing has to offer. Jan Marchetti, a reading specialist at Buckman Heights Elementary School, commented, "My teaching is much richer now that I have personal experiences to share with my students. I feel that I now teach on a different level. I have experienced every step of the writing process firsthand, and I can empathize with my students as they attempt to recognize and develop their writing skills."

The Genesee Valley Writing Project, which serves teachers and students from urban, suburban, and rural regions of Monroe and surrounding counties, is a collaborative school-university partnership that is dedicated to improving the quality of student writing and learning in K-16 schools through teacher-centered professional development.

In addition to the Summer Institute, the Genesee Valley Writing Project will continue to host follow-programs and activitiesócommunity outreach programs, school-based inservice workshops, collaborative programs, and teacher study groupsóleading up to next year's Summer Institute.

The 2008 Summer Institute will be held July 7 through August 1. To receive an application or for more information about the Genesee Valley Writing Project Summer Institute, visit, or contact Meg Callahan at (585) 273-5090 or by e-mail at

About the Warner School of Education

Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education offers master's and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, counseling, human development, and educational policy. The Warner School of Education offers a new accelerated option for its Ed.D. programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform.