Wishing teaching consultant Shari Vandervelde well in her retirement from CWP

ShariShari Vandervelde has been a part of the Colorado Writing Project since 1998. We’ve been lucky to be a part of her decades-long career as an educator, which  included classroom teaching, supervising student teachers for Colorado Mesa University, working as a consultant, and running a business coaching and tutoring students with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

She is retiring from CWP to take on new life adventures, and we will miss her dearly:

CWP is sad to say good-bye to one of our teacher/consultants, Shari Vandervelde.  I met Shari more than 20 years ago when she took Colorado Writing Project with me in Grand Junction, the district she taught in for 34 years.  She came back for more and took CWP II with Stevi Quate. We were smart enough to ask her to train and join our group. Shari has been teaching with CWP for over 20 years and has helped so many teachers across Colorado become better teachers of writing and better writers. She made the trek from Grand Junction for our retreats and to present at conferences every year.  Her dedication to CWP and to the teachers of Colorado is an inspiration. She will be with us in spirit and only a phone call away when we need her smart advice! Thank you for everything you have given to CWP over the years, Shari. I value your friendship. Love you!

—Karen Hartman

Dear Shari,

Thank you so much for all that you’ve given over the years to the Colorado Writing Project and to the thousands of teachers and students whose lives you have touched and indeed changed.

You are not only an exemplary instructional leader, but you are also a resilient, thoughtful educator who always strives for the very best when it comes to helping teachers and students learn. I’m reminded of all the times during CWP retreats when you fearlessly asked key questions or made insightful observations which always pushed my thinking on the way I’d look at our ever-changing curriculum. I know that your Colorado Writing Projects were always of the highest quality when it came to professional development, and I’m confident that your impact on teachers and their students will resonate for many, many years to come.

I’m also reminded of all the miles you drove from Grand Junction in order to connect with our CWP team and keep us informed about what was happening on the western slope. You were always on time, ready to work hard, and prepared to dig into the most current research on writing and literacy. You have truly been our “road warrior”, and I deeply appreciate your commitment to CWP.

On a personal note, I’ve loved our conversations about New Zealand, about traveling to far off places, and about pursuing adventures that add some thrill to our day to day lives. In the last few years I’ve come to appreciate you as a friend whose compassion, honesty, and thoughtful listening have helped me through some tough times. For this, as well as many other things, I thank you with all my heart. 

I wish you all the best, Shari, as you explore new passions and continue to grow as an amazing human being. I’m confident that you have many new adventures ahead and that you’ll continue to push the envelope as a teacher and educator whose vitality for learning is boundless. More than anything, I hope we can stay connected as friends and keep in touch across the miles. 

Thank you, Shari, for all the hours in Colorado Writing Project that you spent reading, writing, assessing, evaluating, preparing,conferring, guiding, and collaborating with colleagues, teachers, administrators, and students. You are the best of the best in CWP! Your legacy will live on in the work! And you will be deeply missed…

Respectfully and with great appreciation,

Tim Hillmer

Shari is an advocate by nature.  I am more aware of life on the western slope because of Shari.  At our once a year CWP retreats, Shari taught me to consider the implications of decisions on our rural schools and the educators who must drive hours to Denver for their professional development.  She shared ideas about working with our youngest writers and she kept our CWP consultant group grounded in research. Her voice was one of reason and softness. Perhaps most important, she also kept Karen sane by helping her get things ready and things cleaned up for our retreats.

I will miss our walks and talks and Shari’s laughter and joyful energy.

—Sheila Kaehny

From the moment I first met Shari Vandervelde I was impressed and in awe of her professionalism. It seems like only yesterday when Shari was in my writing project in Grand Junction. As an avid learner, she asked deep, provocative questions and was eager to learn more about how to create a dynamic, rich literacy classroom. In the classroom she was a marvel, and her students thrived. I remember clearly how Shari’s students performed exceedingly well on the state’s first standards-based assessment, CSAP. Shari was adamant that it was not “test prep” that prepared them, but it was plain, old-fashioned good instruction. When Shari joined CWP as a teacher-consultant, I was thrilled.  She could bring her rich understanding of writing workshop to the teachers she worked with in CWP. Her insights, patience, and passion for literacy were always in the forefront of whatever she did. She has made a difference for students and for teachers alike. Darn! We will miss her.

—Stevi Quate

Shari Vandervelde is an iconic name in our shared, Colorado western slope home.  From classroom teachers to college professors, everyone seems to have a connection with Shari and lauds her accomplishments as an educator and as a person.  I was lucky to have Shari as my mentor as I embarked on my journey as a CWP facilitator.  From our first meeting, Shari was the idyllic guide: simultaneously supportive and inspiring, steadfast in feedback and encouragement.  Despite being her mentee, Shari viewed me as her equal, and knew that I could “do it,” far before I did.  This belief in students, whether in her classroom or professional tutelage, is the mark of a truly special educator.   Despite Shari’s CWP retirement, her influence will persevere indefinitely in the hearts of the children and colleagues she has touched.

—Crystal Sabatke

Shari welcomed me into CWP with enthusiasm several years ago, and I could see immediately the impact she has had in her career as an educator. She is insightful, compassionate, and not afraid to ask the tough questions that reminded us to think differently about the CWP curriculum and our professional development offerings. She was our window into the needs of teachers on Western Slope. Her dedication to CWP sets the standard. We will miss her terribly in our discussions, and future teachers who take our workshops will miss out on the opportunity to learn with her. And I will miss the walks and talks I shared with her. Thank you, Shari—best of luck to you in your future adventures!

—Sarah M. Zerwin

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