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Youth Writing Programs Enhance Site Core Work
Youth writing programs have always been the heart of the Coalfield Writers Satellite's work. Before Coalfield Writers existed, when there was only a small but dedicated group of Marshall University Writing Project Teacher Consultants who wanted to do some work on a local level, a youth writing camp was the first program planned and conducted in the coalfields of West Virginia.
Initially youth programs were the draw that brought TCs in for continuity, and the hook that caught our local school district, engaging their interest to fund and develop programming of many different types. It wasn't until the satellite concept grew and teacher programming developed, that satellite and site leaders saw the potential for youth writing programs to strengthen and enhance the core work of the site.
At this point in the evolution of the satellite our leaders look toward youth writing programs to be part of the backbone of the site. Youth writing programs now greatly impact core work including: recruiting teachers, continuity opportunities for TCs, leadership development, and providing a vehicle for inservice and continuing education programs in our local school districts.
The document immediately below provides information about the evolution of youth writing programs in Coalfield Writers. There are also additional resources for site leaders who wish to find ways to use youth programming to strengthen core work.
Fall Camp Documents
Fall Camp Student Enrollment Form
Summer Camp Documents
Summer Camp Recruitment Letter for 4th Grade Students
Camp Tuition Waivers
Coalfield Writers offers youth writing programs in collaboration with Logan County Schools. Our experience has taught us that to wholesale offer student programs free of charge is not feasible. The very first student program produced by the satellite had no student fee; one-hundred students registered, and only 23 attended. This taught us a valuable lesson about budgeting for supplies, food, etc.
At this point in the satellite work students are charged a nominal fee for all student programs. The current fees are $30 for summer camp and $25 for fall camp. Our satellite uses student fees to buy food (all food for fall program is purchased by the satellite and extra snacks are povided for summer camp) as well as art supplies and student perks that aren't otherwise covered in our budget.
We have learned that in our area parents who pay a minimum of $25 seem to value a program and ensure their students attend, and that $30 per program is all that our local economy will bear.
To make sure no economically disadvantaged student is prohibited from attending programs, the satellite offers what we call "tuition waivers". These are given to any student whose parents complete the form and mail it along with the application. The tuition waiver form does not request specific numbers regarding income, but requires only a signature from a school official that the child is eligible for free or reduced lunch under the federal hot lunch guidelines. In the past the satellite has also granted tuition waivers to students who have a parent in the armed forces serving a tour of duty overseas.
Sample Tuition Waiver Form
Celebrating Rural Poetry
In January 2006 Coalfield Writers, a satellite of Marshall University Writing Project, and an affiliate of The National Writing Project, was selected as one of only six sites nationally to be awarded a “Celebrating Rural Poetry” grant through the National Writing Project’s Rural Site Network and a partnership with Rural Schools and Community Trust.
During the winter of 2006 teacher consultants of Coalfield Writers came together to write poetry lessons with a place conscious theme. These lessons were distributed to all high school English teachers in Logan, Mingo and Boone counties, with an invitation for their students to write place conscious poetry and submit their poems to the local program.
The teacher consultants who worked to write these standards based lesson plans were: Tia Miller, Man High School; Laura Tracy Baisden, Brenda Adams and Diana Toler, Logan High School; Theresa Dingess and Tammy Alberts, Chapmanville High School, and Diana Clay and Mary Hawkins, Logan Middle School. To access these lessons visit our website at www.coalfieldwriters.org.
Coalfield Writers invited high school teachers to have students write poetry with a place conscious theme during the month of March, and submit it to the “Celebrating Rural Poetry” program. The goal of this poetry celebration project was to honor and celebrate of the beauty of Appalachia and the unique resources of southern West Virginia.
In early April a team of judges met to select the top 10 winners of the Celebrating Rural Poetry program. Those top 10 winners had their poems professionally published on a website maintained by Rural Schools and Community Trust, and the winner, Budro Baisden, traveled to Washington DC where he participated in a poetry reading at the Library of Congress with other winning poets from around the nation, and United States Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.
Each student who submitted a poem to the contest had his or her poem transformed into a “Poetry Poster” with graphics and art work illustrating the poem. This work was completed by the graphic arts students of Teacher Consultant Peggie Hensley, Logan High School. These poetry posters were displayed at a community poetry celebration held July 13, 2006 at Coalfield Jamboree, in Logan, and later displayed in the various lobbies of Logan Bank and Trust for the remainder of the summer.
Overall the work of the Teacher Consultants of Coalfield Writers was outstanding, as was the quality of poems submitted to the program. Included in this book is a copy of all the poetry posters created from the submitted poems. We very much hope you enjoy them.
For more information about The National Writing Project, visit writingproject.org. For more information about Coalfield Writers contact satellite director Laura Tracy Baisden at 304-785-6780.