Honors and Awards

Anne-Marie Hall was nominated for the 2006 Community Leadership Award for the Arizona Women's Conference. Dr. Anne-Marie Hall is an educator and community leader with enormous influence in Arizona. She serves as Director of the Writing Program at The University of Arizona, where her duties include teacher training for instructors who deliver instruction to 15,000 undergraduate writing students. Additionally, for the past thirteen years she has directed the Southern Arizona Writing Project (SAWP). This is an affiliate of the National Writing Project (NWP), an award-winning professional development program for teachers from Kindergarten through University (K-16). NWP’s mission is to improve teaching of writing in America's schools. SAWP, which serves five counties and more than seventy school districts in Southern Arizona, has been recognized by NWP as an exemplary site. SAWP offers over twenty-five separate programs serving educators in Southern Arizona. Thousands of teachers in Arizona schools have been impacted by these programs.

For several years, Hall helped run the Portfolio Project, in which high school and college teachers read high school students’ writing portfolios for placement in college Composition classes. This time-intensive method of placement offered students and teachers feedback from well-trained professionals. Another of Hall’s projects offers cash prizes to student essays written at high schools with underrepresented populations in the University. She also convened a committee on Social Justice and Equity in Assessment, a local group of K-16 teachers who work to critique or develop equitable writing assessments. Hall’s work with the Arizona English Teachers Association (AETA), NWP and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), including hosting regional conferences and serving in a variety of leadership roles, helped her recruit SAWP teacher-consultants for AETA, NWP and NCTE leadership positions.

Dr. Hall is an accomplished educator and an exceptional leader. Her ability to inspire her colleagues and energize them to action has had an important impact on those with whom she works.

Carrie Brennan is the Southern Arizona Writing Project Exemplary Teacher for 2002. Carrie is a Social Studies teacher at Catalina Foothills High School. She is a "great teacher" writes one of her colleagues. In addition, her contributions in the field of teacher leader include becoming the first Critical friends Group coach at Catalina Foothills High School as well as the organizer of the Spring Symposium for School Improvement for the past 6 years. She has written and received grants for professional development retreats and actively promotes the Southern Arizona Writing Project programs. She currently co-directs the Teachers Research and inquiry Institute where she is highly respected by the teacher researchers for her intelligence, her sense of humor, her analytical ability, her leadership, and her knowledge of protocols and discussion formats from Critical Friends.

Deborah Dimmett received the 2004 award. Debbie is a languages arts teacher at Sierra Middle School , Sunnyside Unified School District where she has served on the Career Ladder Steering Committee since 1991, providing input into the creation of their evaluation instrument, building an incentive plan, and creating the Action Research Alternative that is an elective for Sunnyside teachers in the Career Ladder program. As a graduate of both the SAWP Invitational Institute and the Teacher Research and Inquiry Institute, Debbie has provided leadership for many SAWP programs: Advisory Board member, facilitator of two young writers programs (the third is April 23, 2005 - see related article in newsletter). Debbie is a National Board Certified teacher, and has been praised by colleagues in SAWP and in Sunnyside for her "continuing curiosity," "impressive abilities," "collaboration with school districts," and her "thoughtful, mindful, compassionate spirit." Finally, Debbie works with teachers in Haiti to improve the lives of children living in the poorest country in the western hemisphere; through her work with these teachers, Debbie has formed a bond between her Sierra students and homeless children in Haiti; Sierra students have collected over $900 to buy books for students living in two orphanages in Port O'Prince, Haiti.

The 2001 Southern Arizona Writing Project Exemplary Teacher Award, presented on behalf of the Southern Arizona Writing Project and the UA Department of English, was awarded to Deborah Walker.

Deb has been a high school English teacher since 1992, first at Amphitheater High School and presently at Canyon del Oro High School. She participated in the SAWP Summer Institute in 1994. Since that time she has co-directed the open enrollment institute twice (1996 and 1998), and was a Senior Fellow for the Summer Invitational Institute in 2000. She serves on the SAWP Advisory Board, has written countless articles for the newsletter, and has been indefatigable in promoting the teaching and learning of writing.

She writes about her work with SAWP: "I learned as much from the elementary teachers as from the college teachers. As co-director of two separate two week writing projects, I watched in amazement as the teachers blossomed and became writers--many for the first time. I am keenly aware of the power of the Writing Project and wish to share my excitement and enthusiasm with teachers."

She also says, "I am an organized person buried beneath an exterior of spontaneity and humor."

Teachers who have worked with her in the Writing Project Institutes write, "Deb was super great! We helped each other by being positive and nonjudgmental. I have now gained confidence in my own ability to write." Another says, "The climate of support in SAWP was established the first day. We were all listeners, critics, and writers.... [SAWP]more that any other education class or convention has allowed me to grow as a teacher and as a writer." Finally, "This has been a life changing experience. I'm grateful and honored to be a part of it. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

And SAWP says thank you, too, Debbie.

Ellen Spitler received the 2005 award. Ellen is an English teacher at Flowing Wells High School in Flowing Wells School District , where she is described as a "gifted teacher." As a graduate of both the SAWP Invitational Institute and the Teacher Research and Inquiry Institute, Ellen has excelled in her commitment to make her students her co-researchers in her work. They collaborated with her - affectionately calling her "Spit" - and one another to determine the overall effectiveness of each strategy taught for their own needs. When her students presented with Ellen for a SAWP Saturday Seminar, they demonstrated "superior understanding of themselves as learners and as students who take responsibility for their learning." The director of the Teacher Research Institute wrote that her "work with the teacher research project was among the best I've seen in many years." As her advisor at UA wrote, she "helps students believe in themselves...she makes kids who do not see themselves as successful in school be confident." And she does this because she is a smart teacher - one who has continued to grow and learn as an educator and develop strategies that work with all students. Ellen epitomizes the best of a SAWP teacher leader: she goes public with what she knows, conducting workshops for elementary and secondary teachers on the teaching of reading in Maran, Peoria , and Sunnyside. Her colleagues and teachers describe Ellen as "energetic, resourceful, creative" and as "passionate, dedicated, capable and smart."

Harriet Scarborough, TUSD teacher/curriculum coordinator, author, and SAWPer, was chosen as Outstanding Educator at University of Arizona College of Education graduation ceremonies in May of 2001.

Harriet Scarborough taught 9th and 10th grade in her native Belize, eventually moving to Tucson where she taught middle and high school English. She was the Language Acquisition Coordinator at Tucson High Magnet School, the Instructional Technology Trainer/Writing Specialist for TUSD, before becoming the Language Arts Coordinator for 9-12 in TUSD. She is currently the Language Arts Coordinator for Wakefield, Hohokam, and Maxwell Middle Schools as well as Cholla and Pueblo High Schools. In these leadership capacities, she has trained hundreds of teachers in the teaching of writing.

Congratulations to Sharon Miller, the winner of the EXEMPLARY TEACHER AWARD for 2003. Sharon established our Teacher Research and Inquiry Institute, now in its 5th year. She has led teachers in presentations at the local, state, and national level. She recently wrote and won a $3000 TIC (Teacher Inquiry Community) grant to support teacher leaders in teacher research in local schools. And she had led a Professional Learning Community (PLC) in a writing endeavor that has resulted in a book contract.

Teachers write about Sharon:
"Sharon is a wonderful motivating force. She is very supportive, but all the while she challenges you and pushes you to deepen your work. There are times when teacher research becomes very hard, especially when you're trying to balance doing your research with the difficult demands of just being a teacher. Sharon won't let you give up, even when the going gets tough, and that's a good thing."

"We are so lucky that Sharon decided to 'retire' to Tucson. She has brought with her a wealth of experience in the classroom and with teacher research, along with a generous spirit of sharing and commitment. She has dedicated countless hours to help in get the teacher research program off the ground. She might not have her own classroom with kids anymore, but in her role as director of the Teacher Research Institute, she has developed a wonderful classroom for adults."

"Sharon 'walks the talk' when it comes to life-long learning. She believes deeply in the importance of relevant, meaningful learning experiences for all children and for all teachers. She seeks out this kind of learning for herself, serving as model for the adults with whom she works. She is open to new ideas, reflective about herself as a learner and facilitator, willing to take risks, and eager to share her new discoveries and the evolution of her own understanding with others."

Congratulations to Sue Smith, SAWP’s Exemplary Teacher of the Year for 2006! Sue Smith has participated in the Summer Institute of the Southern Arizona Writing Project in a most unusual role – that of university teacher. Most participants are K-12 teachers. But Sue is first and foremost a teacher. After the Summer Institute, Sue went on to sit on our Advisory Board. She leads our Professional Learning Communities program, which gives mini-grants to small groups of teachers working together on a collaborative project. She has given inservices to public school teachers. Most incredibly, when preparing an inservice on writing in the content areas for the entire faculty of Cholla High School, Sue prepared an entire newsletter using the school’s name and logo – with columns on writing activities and ideas to use in science, math, social studies, English, and so on. It was a remarkable effort above and beyond the usual professional development handouts. In fact, ABOVE-AND-BEYOND is really Sue’s middle name.