Looking back at my decade or so as a National Writing Project (NWP) Teaching Consultant (TC), I’m struck first and foremost by the camaraderie and connectedness of it all. I attended my first summer institute at the Central Virginia Writing Project, hosted by the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. My mentor, Pat Harder, invited me to apply, and her co-director, at the time, was Margo Figgins, one of my ed school professors and the director of a young writers’ camp my wife attended as a kid. At the institute, I met guest-instructor Mariflo Stephens who is a good friend (as I found out) of mentors and students with whom I taught and learned years later.

Before Connected Learning was a thing—a good thing—connected learning was a Writing Project thing.

These generous educators gave me my start as a Writing Project teacher. They gave me gifts I’m still unwrapping as a writer, listener, and servant to my students. They connected me with a history of writing instruction founded in expression and actualization, rather than in repetition and ‘achievement.’ They introduced me to cherished colleagues, past and present, near and far. They helped me learn to care about the way we teach and care for children at a time in my career when it was easier and more rewarding, inside the system, to look out for my re-affirmed and advancement. What I took from the Writing Project brought me back in 2011 to help #blog4nwp, which affirmed for me the essential importance of the NWP: it brings us—all of us, students and teachers alike—together in a way no other network does. It tells us that we have things to say, that we should be heard, and that we are at our best as listeners, writers, speakers, and makers when we listen, write, speak, and make with others. It is right to be together. I don’t know of any other organizations so committed to our schools that values making things together as much as being ‘right.’

I am thankful for the past and excited for the future.

The NWP gets it—writing as making, making as writing, writing an open society, writing an open Web, hacking the notebook, grinding new lenses, connecting learning with civic action: the NWP brings all of these things together because it has brought all of us together.

I think our best testament to the last 40 years is to keep listening, writing, speaking, and making a hopeful, inclusive, and open world for our kids and us all at once.

Thank you, NWP—onward.

Chad Sansing NWPChad Sansing teaches middle school language arts and technology education in central Virginia. Outside the classroom, you can catch him working with the NWP and Webmaker, reading and playing games, and enjoying time with his family.