NEW YORK — Six teachers have been awarded the sixth annual College Board Bob Costas Grants for the Teaching of Writing. The grants recognize exceptional teachers for using innovative methods to inspire their students to write. The award was created to support teachers and to thank Bob Costas, the Emmy Award-winning broadcaster and author, for his generous public service work on behalf of the National Commission on Writing. Each winner receives a grant of $3,000.
"It is with great pride that we recognize these innovative and excellent programs for teaching students the valuable skill of writing," said College Board President Gaston Caperton. "These teachers understand the critical need for strong writing skills as students progress toward college and careers. We applaud their work to inspire and engage young people in new and exciting ways."
One grant recipient or teaching team was selected from each of the College Board's six regions:
Midwestern Region: Martina Leslie, an English teacher at Saginaw Arts and Science Academy in Saginaw, Mich., guides middle school students through the publication of "Dragon Lore," an anthology of their stories. Collaborating with high school art students, the middle school students create an illustrated anthology that is published and offered for sale on Amazon and at a local retail bookstore. The students also enjoy a special book signing event and author's night at the bookstore. "Students love seeing their final, professional copy of the book," Leslie explained.
Middle States Region: Jillian Coneys, who teaches at the Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change in New York City, is helping students write, record and perform original poetry. Coneys' project, "From Paper to Stage," begins with visits to spoken word performances and leads students through writing journals and composition. Based on their thoughts, experiences, concerns and emotions, the students' poetry forms the basis of both a performance and a recording set to music. Coneys' plan is to use the grant to purchase recording equipment and editing software to produce audio CDs of the students' work and also to rent space for a performance.
Southwestern Region: Amy Simpson, who teaches AP® English Language and AP English Literature at Alma d'arte Charter High School in Las Cruces, N.M., encourages and engages her students by publishing their work in high-quality, professionally produced books. In the past three years, she has published nine books of student writing — including books of poetry, essays and a graphic novel. After Simpson published the first book — a compilation of student poetry — students wanted extra copies and were enthusiastic about writing, and revising, future work for publication. "My students have something to say and they want to write for real — not just for a grade," said Simpson.. "Providing them with ways to permanently record their work not only values their thoughts and ideas, but has given a genuine incentive to develop their ideas more fully."
Western Region: Matthew Porter Dyer, an English teacher at Mesa Ridge High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., leads a program called Writers Fusion, which helps students complete full-length manuscripts and screenplays over the course of the school year with support from teachers and classmates. Dyer's program, offered to any student motivated to work on his or her creative writing, helps students through the writing and editing process and also teaches them about the publishing industry. "Teachers spend so much time focusing on the expository side of writing that students have lost sight of the fact that writing can and should be an incredibly creative form of self-expression," Dyer said. Writers Fusion allowed students to rise to the challenge of creativity, and their ideas blossomed, with individuals and teams producing novels or screenplays.
Southern Region: Kimual Snow, teaches English at Whitehaven High School in Memphis, Tenn., and helps her students develop writing and language skills through the prism of service projects. Using the literacy and technological skills they learn in class, her students create an advertising campaign for their chosen charitable organization. Students must research and discuss these organizations, then present multimedia projects to representatives of each charity. "Having the students write for these organizations forced them to confront real-world writing in all its complexity — offering numerous frustrations and the deeper learning that comes with them," Snow said.
New England Region: Christa E. Bolen, a teacher at American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, Conn., develops her students' language skills with "Photoliteracy," a project that blends photography and writing by having students compose photographs that illustrate a theme, such as "discrimination," then describe their thoughts and ideas in writing. Bolen said that because the majority of her students use American Sign Language (ASL) as a natural means of communicating, English is essentially a second language for them and writing is a source of frustration. Discussing and then writing about their photography, has helped expand their language skills.
The National Writing Commission
The College Board established the National Commission on Writing in 2002 to create more national support for the teaching of writing. Costas, an eight-time Sportscaster of the Year, has supported the commission's work by producing a national public service announcement encouraging young people to develop strong writing skills. Teachers of grades 6–12 from any discipline, in both public and nonpublic schools, are eligible for the Bob Costas Grants, as are writing programs that take place within schools or the community. For more details about the annual award program, visit www.collegeboard.com/costasgrants.
The College Board
The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of more than 5,900 of the world's leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools.
Photo available on request. For further information, visit www.collegeboard.org.
The College Board Sandra Riley 212.713.8052 firstname.lastname@example.org