Connecticut Writing Project set to host several events

Students receiving awards for their published written works (Courtesy/Connecticut Writing Project)

This year, the Connecticut Writing Project will be hosting several events at the University of Connecticut, including a Teacher-Consultant Writing Contest and a judging site for the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards.

This is the ninth year UConn will be in charge of the Teacher-Consultant Writing Contest, a competition open to public school teachers who have completed the six-credit summer course hosted by the university designed to help them become better writers and teachers of writing.

“We’ll get about 120 submissions of poetry, 30 submissions of fiction and 10 or 15 submissions of non-fiction from teachers all across the state,” said English teacher and director of the UConn branch of the Connecticut Writing Project Jason Courtmanche.

Courtmanche said UConn creative writing graduate students serve as judges who award a first-place winner and honorable mentions.

“We’ll publish the winners along with some other selected pieces from teachers who have just completed the most recent summer institute. The publication will come out later in the fall,” Courtmanche said.

This spring will be the 30th year that the UConn branch of the Connecticut Writing Project publishes a magazine of writing from Connecticut K-12 students.

“We get 1500-1700 submissions from students all across the state, and we get teacher volunteers who spend a day on campus reading and scoring everything,” Courtmanche said.

Submissions are open year-round, and in May there will be a ceremony at Jorgensen Auditorium to recognize the kids who got honorable mentions.

“One kid from each grade level will read [his or her] piece to the audience and the rest of [the kids] will come up and get a handshake, a certificate and a copy of the magazine. We probably had around a thousand people in Jorgensen this past May,” Courtmanche said.

Courtmanche said for the 30th anniversary, their keynote speaker will be a Newbery Caldecott award winner.

“We usually have a local, Connecticut young adult or children’s author speak, but this year I got Matt de la Peña. He just won the Newbery Caldecott and the National Council of Teachers of English Human Rights Award for a children’s book called Last Stop on Market Street, so to have him come speak is a really big deal,” Courtmanche said.

This year, UConn will also be a judging site for the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards.

“[The Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards are] a private organization that has a big contest every year [for] both art and writing and they’ve been using Writing Project sites to get teachers to read and score the submitted work. We’ll end up scoring a couple thousand pieces of student writing. That will bring in some money for us, which is nice because it will help defray the costs of our own publications,” Courtmanche said.

The Connecticut Writing Project is a branch of the National Writing Project (NWP), a program in which universities across the country host summer workshops to help high school teachers become better writers and teachers of writing.

“It’s a way to give teachers an audience and a purpose for their own writing, so when they’re talking to their students about writing they can speak as a writer and not just as a teacher,” Courtmanche said.

Over 3,000 teachers nationwide participated in NWP workshops last summer, including 10 teachers from across the state who participated in the Connecticut Writing Project- Storrs at UConn.

“NWP teacher leaders work using our evidence-based programs to help their students become better writers and learners,” said NWP executive director Dr. Elyse Eidman-Aadahl. “[The teachers] also develop their own skills and capacities to work with colleagues to improve education and the profession more broadly.”


Gabriella Debenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gabriella.debenedictis@uconn.edu.