MP native organizes conference
Katherine Crawford, third generation teacher and former Mt. Pleasant resident (the daughter of former New London teachers - Johanna Crawford and the late Lanny J. Crawford and granddaughter of the late Pauline Crawford – former southeast Iowa teacher), has organized the first annual Fourth Grade Writers Conference for Sandra Cisneros Charter School in the Chicago area, to be held this Friday (June 20).
For this day students will be rotating through five workshops led by different teachers (Margret Pilat, Kristina Ericson, Val Krueger and Crawford). They have planned for a local free-lance writer, Pat Terry, to speak about her experiences as a writer. Also featured will be a student author’s chair where students will share a favorite piece of their own writing in a small group. This will take the form of an author’s signing with readings, photographs and an autograph session.
Students will also be taking part in other special activities leading up to the day of the conference itself inclusive of Skype sessions with highly successful television advertising and show copywriter Ruth Daniels and also with Sarah Darer Littman, published author of award-winning children’s books and other publications.
“These events in the past have been very inspiring days for students to see themselves in a new light, as real writers themselves. It is also a day for students to be exposed to different genres of writing and to learn how writing could be an actual career,” Crawford said.
Crawford has a long history of initiating writers’ conferences at prior schools where she has taught including Bluff Elementary, Clinton, E.F. Lindop, Broadview, Ill. and at West Oak Middle School, Mundelein, Ill.
Crawford said she was inspired by her own formative writing experiences in Mt. Pleasant and has aimed to create something similar for her elementary students.
“Early in my education career in Mt. Pleasant, I was taught to think of myself as a real writer. I had the opportunity to attend the annual area Writers’ Conference in my third- and fifth-grade years as a representative from Pleasant Lawn Elementary School,” Crawford reflected.
“Another very special experience was the fourth-grade writers conference that all fourth graders (including Crawford) participated in following a creative writing unit. Tom Ellsworth was my teacher that year. He created a very open environment for writing that helped me to feel creative and to be able to try out new things with my writing. Highlights of these experiences included meeting and working with writers from the community such as Christie Vilsack, sharing my own stories with a small group and trying out different kinds of writing. Other rewarding related writing experiences in Mt. Pleasant included getting to read a story from one of these conferences on KILJ radio and even having different stories and works published in the Mt. Pleasant News. Seeing my own words in print is something I will never forget and I’m excited to give other young people the same sort of opportunity,” she said.
Crawford is a 1995 graduate of Mt. Pleasant Community High School, a graduate from the University of Northern Iowa in elementary education and has a masters’ degree as reading specialist & literary coach from Benedictine University. Crawford’s grandmother, Pauline Crawford, taught in a one-room school house for four years in Southeast Iowa, before marrying and starting her family.
Her father, Lanny Crawford, taught industrial arts for over 30 years at New London High School. Crawford’s mother, Johanna Crawford, taught both Spanish and French also for over 30 years at New London High School and has continued to teach courses in the Henry County community. Crawford, herself, began her teaching career at Tampa Palms Elementary School in Tampa, Fla., after completing her student teaching at the same school. She is now teaching fourth grade at Sandra Cisneros Charter School in Chicago, Ill.
Writers’ contributions during the conference will be shared on the Mt. Pleasant News website — www.mpnews.net.