Top of the Mitt Writing Project receives writing scholarship

The Top of the Mitt Writing Project, a collaboration of teachers and writers from Northern Michigan, is the recipient of one of 38 National Writing Project and National Endowment for the Humanities grants under the initiative. “Building A More Perfect Union”.

Organizations representing universities, community colleges, arts organizations and museums are among the other winners. Top of the Mitt Writing Project is collaborating with the Little Traverse History Museum, the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, and North Central Michigan College on this initiative.

The Top of the Mitt project has three main objectives. A year-long Teacher Leadership Institute will involve twelve area teachers working to develop projects and programs around the ideas of social justice, civic reasoning and critical thinking. Our project includes six returning teacher consultants and six newly accepted teacher candidates from five local school communities: Lynne Lesky and Kacey Riley from Petoskey High School, Julie Wonnacot from Pellston Elementary, Cara Burns from Charlevoix Elementary, Dianna Loder from Beaver Island Community School and Claire Bowerman from Shay Elementary in Harbor Springs.

In addition to the six new teacher leaders, the institute’s new cohort also includes Top of the Mitt co-directors Glen Young, Suzanne Nayback (Petoskey Public Schools), Tim Jardine and Dan Polleys, as well as seasoned consultant teachers John Lennon (Petoskey High School) and Carol Johnston, formerly of Boyne City Public Schools.

The grant work will also include the participation of other Top of the Mitt teacher-consultants, including Tim Jardine, Jim Kroll, Geryl Lorbert, Jeff Garver, Jenny Greer and Dan Polleys, who will assist throughout the process.

Building A More Perfect Union has invited grant applications from eligible humanities organizations that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and wish to strengthen their educational programs and expand their reach to underserved communities. Top of the Mitt coordinates a multi-tiered project that includes a year-long institute for area teachers to strengthen their teaching of writing to understand and recognize biases, and to work towards a more inclusive approach to learning. teaching writing and selecting reading material.

In addition to the Teacher Leadership Institute, Top of the Mitt will also facilitate five family literacy projects to bring families and teachers together to strengthen the connections between home and school literacy. The program, 100 Families Strong, will serve twenty families from five local districts: Pellston, Charlevoix, Alanson, Boyne Falls and Grayling. Families will receive funds to support home libraries, as well as materials to support family literacy activities.

Top of the Mitt writing project co-director Toby Kahn-Loftus said the grant will allow the group to better reach students and families who have struggled to keep up during the pandemic and went on to say “…these family literacy projects will support parents, teachers and principals to build stronger relationships and provide each community with more tools and texts to strengthen the links between home and school literacy by showing parents how they could read, write and talk about books with their children.

The objectives of the grant, selected through a competitive peer review process, are to re-establish post-pandemic programming and to engage and deepen collaborations with stakeholders that will broaden their reach. The third goal of the Mitt grant is to work with the Little Traverse History Museum to study, examine, and make the museum’s many local and indigenous artifacts more accessible to area schools.

Jane Garver, director of the Little Traverse History Museum and teacher in Charlevoix schools, says the program is a natural collaboration of organizations in the region. “A big part of our mission at the museum is to share educational resources, so this partnership seemed to us very well suited. It will be exciting to see how teachers integrate our primary sources into their classrooms. »

Scott R. Banks