The last half of last week, I attended the annual meeting of the National Writing Project for the 8th or 9th time in a row.  In one of our Saturday Rural Sites Leadership Team’s working sessions, we were asked to write a brief  reflection on our involvement in the national organization and its impact on our careers.  I dashed out the following.

My career has tracked right alongside my involvement in NWP, which began with the SI in 1991 as an eighth grade English teacher, only three years into the craft, going after an M.A. in English as a ticket to get ahead in my second career (post-oilfield economy bust which drove me to teaching at an advanced age: 35? Seemed advanced at the time!). My early years of involvment in WP was confined to my local AWP Site, where I gained experience and earned spare change giving presentations on the in-service circuit. My first exposure at the national level came when I accepted my Site’s Tech Liaison role. I recall attending that first meeting in Baltimore, and I haven’t missed a meeting since.

The M.A. in English did provide a ladder to move up in paths that never would have emerged without the degree, but equally important in every job change, promotion, or rise to administration that’s come in the years since was the bulleted list of activities and achievements on my resume under the heading “Involvement with National Writing Project.”

Writing Project was influential and enabling for my first professional publication, for my training and experience in teaching with technology and teaching online, and for professional association and recognition at the national level with the Rural Sites Network.

And now I know bright, talented, creative people from Coast to Coast who share the same love and passion that I have for students, for teaching, and learning. Yes, much of who I am owes much to who I have hung out with in NWP over the years–I am deeply indebted, grateful, and above all, blessed.