Youth Writing Festivals 2016

newp kinseyOn Saturday, March 19th, NeWP hosted the Youth Writing Festivals. For our Eastern Festival, we moved locations to Gretna High School and we had a fantastic turnout. There were over 50 students there from eight different schools/districts. The Eastern Festival is for middle school students and they ranged from 6th to 9th grade. Each student received a notebook and t-shirt for their participation in the festival.

The day was broken up into four sessions, with two groups of students traveling between the sessions. Sessions were led by area middle school teachers Elizabeth Lambert, Heather Kinsey, Shelley Sheets, and Amy Tasich. Sessions focused on character development, character interactions, topic and story creation, ignoring the editor, and there was a writing marathon for each student as well. The final session of the day was for publishing student work. Student pieces can be found on our blog
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This is the fifth year the Nebraska Writing Project has hosted a Youth Writing Festival, and the third year it has been geared towards middle school students. If you have any questions or would like to participate in the 2017 YWF, contact Amy Tasich at




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NeWP Teachers Enjoy National Council of the Teachers of English Convention

Nebraskans at NCTE in Minneapolis
Nebraskans at NCTE in Minneapolis

At least sixteen Nebraska Writing Project teachers descended on the Twin Cities for the National Council of the Teachers of English convention November 19-23.

NeWP teachers presented at three panels. Pius X teachers Lauren Funk, Katie Elsener, Tom Seib (emeritus) and Jane Connealy (emeritus) presented on their Holocaust education program.
NeWP Director Robert Brooke was joined by three past NeWP teacher leaders, now site directors at other Midwestern Writing Projects, for a panel on NWP and community engagement. Maggie Christensen, Director of the Oxbow Writing Project, spoke about their young writers partnership at the Hope Center. Cathie English, Co-Director of the Ozarks Writing Project, spoke about her teacher education course. Susan Martens, Director of the PrairieLands Writing Project, spoke about Writing Marathons. Robert Brooke, NeWP Director, spoke about the Veterans writing workshops our site ran this year in Lincoln and Omaha.
NeWP University partners Lauren Gatti, Nicole Green, and Sarah Thomas presented a panel on the Secondary English Education program at UNL, and were part of a post-conference workshop session Monday on the same topic.
Jeff Grinvalds, our Technology Liaison from Westside High School, Jane Connealy, Maggie Christensen, and Susan Martens all represented our site at the NWP meeting the day before the conference. Susan Martens organized a NWP- sponsored Writing Marathon in downtown Minneapolis on Friday and was joined by fellow Nebraskans, Dan Boster, Jane Connealy and Jeff Grinvalds.


Writing Marathon Minneapolis Style
Writing Marathon Minneapolis Style

Other attendees from Nebraska included Daniel Boster (Ralston), Sally Burt (Pius X), Katrina Gottschall (O’Neill High School), Darin Jensen (Metro Community College), Jeff Lacey (Ralston Schools), and Colleen McBride (Pius X).


Presenters at NCTE
Doctor Robert Brooke, Director of the Nebraska Writing Project
Inside the Skyway

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A Grand Celebration at the Spring Gathering

Spring Gathering 2015

Over sixty teachers gathered Friday night, May 1st, 2015, to celebrate the year’s achievements in the Nebraska Writing Project, and to honor this year’s award recipients.

Diana Weis, a 5th grade teacher from Cather Elementary School in Millard, received the 2015 Carol

Diana Accepts Carol MacDaniels' Award
Diana Accepts Carol MacDaniels’ Award

MacDaniels Nebraska Writing Project Teacher of the Year award. She attended the event with her parents, brother, and a few close friends. Her nominators praised her for the “quiet and humble” contributions to NeWP programs since 2004, and for helping make them – and her students – better people.

Administrator of the Year
Administrator of the Year

Kathy Fleming, principal at Saratoga Elementary School in Lincoln, received the 2015 Administrator Certificate of Recognition. She was nominated by her school staff for her support of, and full participation in, this year’s Embedded Institute at Saratoga School.

Slam Poets doing their thing!

One highlight of the evening was a performance by five members of the State Champion Slam Poetry Team from North Star High School. The poets performed individual, duet, and group slams – teaching the audience how to click and when to shout “speak, poet!” in the best tradition of slam.

Also performing were four writers from the Nebraska Warrior Writers program, a new program featuring writing from veterans of the US Armed Services. This program, sponsored by a partnership between Humanities Nebraska and Nebraska Writing Project, brings together veteran writers for series of Saturday morning writing sessions. This year, veterans of the Vietnam War, the Coast Guard, the Navy, and the Gulf War read from their work.

Also celebrated were the Young Writers Programs for the past year (including the Poetry of Place Celebration), NeWP Masters and Doctoral graduates, the year’s Retreat and Marathons, incoming participants in the Summer Institute and our two Embedded Institutes at Gretna and Saratoga Elementary, and advanced participants in next summer’s Leadership and Professional Writing Retreats.

This year’s quilt raffle winner was Diana Weis – who took home a beautiful quilt made especially for this even by Jan Knispel of Valentine.

We look forward to seeing even more members of the NeWP network at next year’s Spring Gathering. It’s already scheduled for April 29, 2016, 6-8 PM!

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