i.
(A Doodle)

Ripley-Crandall Post Pic

ii.
(A Script)

(Curtain opens. Man walks to large screen, center stage, and scratches head. Projector shines spotlight on him. Man looks to audience, squints into bright light, and turns to screen. Projector projects images. Stage is a cave. Images are shadows the man watches)

A Ukranian grandmother, Hynka, who offers a child a box of Crayola crayons. A child doodling. The grandmother reading poetry. The two drawing Maude, a fusion of God and Mother Nature…The Great Whatever. Glasses of wine.

5th grade teacher, Mr. Finster, rolling on an electric wheelchair and assigning young people to write a story—a new story every week. Classroom is a garage sale of books, essays, vocabulary, and ideas.

Teachers ignoring the writing process. Students assessed with multiple-choice tests, reading assignments, and vocabulary quizzes. Boy doodling cartoons and poems. Boy writing, “There must be a better way.”

Boy sitting in an English class taking notes on how to write a research paper. His teacher tells him, “None of this school work matters. What matters is everything out there.” Teacher points out the window and shreds the term paper he turns in. She gives him an ‘A’ and says, “Go. Undo what school has done to you. Go write your world.”

Boy attends undergraduate readings. Boy meets David Bosnick, Ruth Stone, Leslie Heywood, Carol Boyce-Davies, and Art Clements. Boy reads Chinua Achebe, Shakespeare, Jean Rhys, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni, and Liz Rosenberg.

Boy applies to graduate school.

(Images of Kentucky: Derby, balloon races, mini-marathons, Irish Rover, Old Louisville, St. Mathews, the Mohammed Ali Museum, Actors Theater)

Boy meeting Jeffrey Skinner, Saranbande Books, Aletha Fields, Sue Mc.V, Ron Freeman, Jean Wolph, and Alice Stevenson. 100s of students at the J. Graham Brown School writing, creating, and graduating. Dottie Willis. Kentucky portfolios. Ten-minute play festivals. Culminating Projects. Hoops4Hope. Louisville Writing Project.

(The word, INSPIRED, dances across the screen)

Man assigning writers’ notebooks, attending conferences, meeting Sharon Washington, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, Tanya Baker, Tonya Perry, Paul Oh, Paul Allison, Joye Alberts, Pat Fox, Christina Cantrill, Linda Friedrich, Judy Buchanan, and Troy Hicks. Man meeting teachers everywhere.

(Images of Syracuse, New York)

Man in front of the Carrier Dome. Man meeting Kelly Chandler-Olcott, Marcelle Haddix, Kathleen Hinchman, Zaline Roy-Campbell, and Kristiina Montero. Man collaborating on Writing Our Lives conferences and the Sudanese Lost Boys Cow Project. Man collecting data with relocated refugee youth. Journals and books. Man writing in a journal, “The roads don’t always lead to Johannesburg. They also lead to the National Writing Project. NWP = progress.”

(Images of Connecticut)

Long Island Sound. Kelly Gallagher. Bridgeport. New Haven. Jason Courtmanche. Lynda Valerie. Steve Ostrowski. Kwame Alexander. Invitational Summer Institutes, Young Adult Literacy Labs. Urban Sites Network. Birmingham. Chicago. NYC. A New England Board of Higher Education Award for Excellence.

iii.
(A Letter)

Dear NWP,

Thank you. Thank you for providing 40 years of professional development to educators like me. You invested in me as a young teacher and you showed me the road to take. Actually, you showed me how to perform on a stage. The rest has been history.

Brendan Kennelly, an Irish poet, once penned a poem called, “The Oldest Trilogy.” It was simple: “I love / to believe / in hope.”

The National Writing Project remains my hope, especially during a time when the voices of teachers and students remain marginalized. You stand for us and for that I am thankful.

Happy Anniversary! Here’s to the next 40 years together!

(Script Again)
(Man turns and faces audience)

(A word, ‘Ubuntu,’ shines on the screen: I can be me because of who we are together).

(Music cued. Audience dances. Man joins them)

(lights out)



CrandallBryan Ripley Crandall is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University. He taught 10+ years in Louisville, Kentucky, and became a Louisville Writing Project fellow (XXI) in 2002. His research interests include adolescent literacies, professional development in urban schools, young adult literature, and the teaching of writing. Currently, Crandall serves the Bridgeport Higher Education Alliance and is a board member of Hoops4Hope, a global non-profit organization that supports youth development in southern Africa.

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