Nearly 34 years ago in 1981, three Maryland educators came together to bring the ideas of the Bay Area Writing Project to our state. Dr. Charles Allen, Director of the Maryland Assessment Center Program and the English Language Arts Supervisor, Baltimore City Public Schools; Dr. Gloria Neubert, Professor, then Towson State University; and Dr. Barbara Walvoord, Professor, University of Cincinnati, sponsored Maryland’s site through the Baltimore Area Consortium for Writing Across the Curriculum. They served as the co-directors of the Maryland Writing Project until 1983. Since that time, the directorship has been held by persons who combine extensive knowledge of theory and research in composition with a commitment to the teachers-teaching-teachers model of the National Writing Project.
Because the Maryland Writing Project was sponsored through the Baltimore Area Consortium for Writing Across the Curriculum, it viewed itself as serving a wide geographic area. It was originally housed at Loyola College until 1983 when it moved to its current home in the College of Education at Towson University. The Maryland Writing Project continues to enjoy the support of Loyola College and the Maryland Public School System. Summer Institutes which have been held at Chesapeake College, Washington College, and Salisbury State University, demonstrate the commitment to serve different districts of Maryland schools. In 1997, the Eastern Shore Writing Project at Salisbury State University was established as a new site under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth Curtin.
The initial funds to begin the Maryland Writing Project were provided by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, with matching money from three local foundations: the Morton and Sophia Macht Foundation, the Goldseker Foundation, and the Thomas and Elizabeth Sheridan Foundation. The aim was to firmly establish a Summer Institute and inservice courses for teachers. A number of additional programs have developed over the years in response to the needs of the educational community and the Teacher Consultants who have been trained. through the Summer Institute. Generally, these programs are developed by Teacher Consultants for other teachers and for the larger community, and they include direct services to students and parents, study groups on new developments in language arts education, and cross-site programs. Since 1981, Maryland Writing Project has held 32 Summer Institutes that have trained more than 3000 Teacher-Consultants who have led thousands of hours of professional development in writing instruction for Maryland teachers.
For most of its history, Maryland Writing Project received funding through the National Writing Project, with matching funds from Towson University. In 2011, the federal government defunded National Writing Project, a move that cut funds to all writing project sites. In light of this change in funding, beginning in 2013, under the leadership of Dr. Diane Wood, Professor and Chairperson of the Instructional Leadership and Professional Development Department, Maryland Writing Project began a process of re-envisioning itself. Its current directors, Leslie Goetsch, a Lecturer in the Instructional Leadership and Professional Development Department, and Dr. Vicki McQuitty, Assistant Professor in the Elementary Education Department, are currently working to build the Maryland Writing Project to reflect the organization’s renewed mission and serve Baltimore City and the area school districts. Today we continue our strong tradition of preparing teachers as leaders in writing instruction through offering a Summer Fellowship invitational program for teachers, professional development in writing instruction for teachers, and a creative writing summer camp for area students.