Our Staff

Karen Hartman (Director):

Karen HI’ve been with Colorado Writing Project since 1987 and the director for the past 15 years. I Iove spending time with motivated teachers as we learn together about the teaching of writing. In an age of Common Core and more testing than any kid should have to endure, it’s important that teachers stay focused on their students and best practice while meeting the expectations of their districts. CWP can help teachers do just that.

I consult in schools about reading and writing workshops, teach at least one of our summer workshops every summer, and read lots of Young Adult Literature. Sheila Kaehny and I give booktalks on new YAL several times a year. I also serve on the board of the Colorado Language Arts Society as director of conferences. When not busy with CWP, I spend my time with my three children and five grandchildren and with lots of wonderful friends. I Love to travel and, since retiring from Thornton High School, have traveled extensively with my late husband and friends. Beach vacations are a necessity in my life!


Amy Ellerman:

I began my teaching career with over a decade in grades K-2. I feel a kinship with other educators who fully appreciate (and expect) the amazing thinking and writing work that our youngest writers can (and deserve to) do. Writing workshop quickly became the heartbeat of my classroom, my practice, and my ongoing professional curiosity. 

For the past eight years, I have worked side by side with teachers and kids as the Instructional Coach at Maple Grove Elementary in Golden, Colorado. I love the opportunity to teach and learn at all grade levels, K-5, and I value our community’s willingness to collaborate and innovate. The work is complex and rewarding, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it. 

I have been involved for many years in literacy leadership with CCIRA, an independent, non-profit literacy organization in Colorado. Just recently, I was thrilled to join Two Writing Teachers Blog as a contributing writer—such an honor to be a part of an online forum for writing teachers that contributes so much to the professional dialogue. I am deeply committed to supporting the learning of fellow educators, believing that all teachers deserve to be part of dynamic, professional communities. Colorado Writing Project is exactly this kind of community—so invested in and committed to crafting the best possible writing experiences for kids (and adults). I feel so lucky to be a part of this amazing team! 

(I’m on Twitter @sanderling12, and I blog at Running to School.) 

Tim Hillmer:

TimI have worked in the Boulder Valley School District for the past 31 years as a language arts teacher, an instructional coach, and a classroom mentor. I taught writing instruction at the University of Colorado- Boulder and in the University of New Hampshire’s Summer Writing Program. I am the author of two novels, The Hookmen (Scribner), and Ravenhill (University of New Mexico Press). My books have received the Colorado Fiction Award as well as a special fiction prize from the Colorado Center. I also write frequently for Statement with the Colorado Language Arts Society and have published poetry, short fiction, and articles in numerous magazines and journals.


Sheila Kaehny:

SheilaCrazy to admit, but I have been teaching for 20 years! At the moment, I teach 6th grade Creative Writing at Westlake Middle School in Adams 12, while also serving as the building Instructional Coach. In my previous life, I taught AP Lang, American Lit, interdisciplinary English, and was the Newspaper Adviser at Thornton High School in Adams 12. I also taught 7th grade Language Arts, Math, and Special Education at Kepner Middle School in DPS, Adolescent Lit at CU Denver, and English Methods at Regis University. I earned my MA in C&I at CU Boulder and my BA in English from Emory University. I used to enjoy playing soccer until I had my second ACL reconstruction a few years ago. Now, I play tennis and walk and bike and hike and, like Karen, I try to get to the beach as often as possible. I have been a consultant for Colorado Writing Project for ??? years!


Stevi Quate:


While growing up, I had two dreams: to become a ballerina or to teach. Teaching won out. Most of the 25 years that I spent in the classroom were in Adams Five Star District, just north of Denver, where I taught middle school language arts and high school English with a short stint at teaching social studies. As a teacher at Thornton High, I learned about writing workshop and with my fellow English department members studied how to engage students in writing texts that mattered to them and how to provide timely feedback that would grow them as writers.

Little did I know that I would become a published writer myself. A few years ago, my colleague, John McDermott, and I wrote Clock Watchers and The Just Right Challenge. In addition, my published writing includes a short story, multiple journal articles, and a few chapters about professional development.

I never imagined that I would leave the classroom, but when I was encouraged to apply to be the literacy coordinator at Colorado Department of Education (CDE), I thought I would give it a try. For over four years at CDE, I lived the early journey of CSAP and implementation of the state standards. At the same time, I co-directed Colorado Writing Project, which ended up being a ten-year adventure. After CDE, I moved to the teacher education program at the University of Colorado at Denver. Since I officially retired from UCD, I’ve worked as a staff developer with PEBC (Public Education and Business Coalition), consult internationally, and continue my work with CWP.


Crystal Sabatke:

I have been teaching middle school for 14 years, although I often feel like I just began. After a childhood characterized by a love of reading and writing, I continued to foster my passion for literacy by earning a BA in English Literature from Colorado State University and later, from Colorado Mesa University, an MA in Teacher Leadership. Currently, I teach sixth grade writing at Centennial Middle School in Montrose, CO, where I also serve as the building instructional coach. In addition to my work in the classroom, I co-own an educational consulting business, Proven Practice, which provides professional development for educators in the areas of literacy and standards. My educational career truly transformed when I took CWP I over a decade ago, and I am thrilled to be able to share my excitement for writing workshop with other passionate educators. I live in Montrose with my high school sweetheart husband, darling preschool son, two tenacious pups, and Skinny Legs, the Betta fish.


Sarah M. Zerwin:

SarahI began working with the Colorado Writing Project in the summer of 2013 and feel so lucky to be able to share this transformative professional development with teacher colleagues each summer and to work in the company of the amazing CWP teacher consultants you’ve read about above. My 23-year career as an educator has taken me from the Denver Public Schools where I student taught at Abraham Lincoln High School, to Hazen High School in Renton, Washington, then to Mahomet-Seymour High School in Mahomet, Illinois, and then back home to Colorado where I’ve taught since 2007 at Fairview High School in Boulder. I earned my BA in English Literature from CU-Boulder, my MS in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and my PhD in Secondary Literacy Curriculum and Instruction from CU-Boulder. I served as the editor of Statement, the journal of the Colorado Language Arts Society, for three years and I’ve taught Secondary English Methods for CU-Boulder. At Fairview, I teach language arts and advise the student newspaper, The Royal Banner.  My book, Point-Less: An English Teacher’s Guide to More Meaningful Grading will be out in 2020 (Heinemann). I live in Boulder with my husband, our growing-up-too-fast daughter, and our fur child.