CWP Teacher/Consultant, Karen Crawford, retires after 30 years with the Colorado Writing Project

Colorado Writing Project is sad to announce the retirement of our dear friend and colleague, Karen Crawford.  

Karen began working with CWP in 1987.  For those 30 years, she has touched the lives of teachers throughout Colorado.  Karen believes deeply in the power of writing and the importance of allowing students the freedom to write about what is important to them.  Karen wrote for our website, “CWP fills my summer months in the company of teachers as students and teachers of writing, who often for the first time realize the power of the writer within and how that can transform their lives, their teaching lives, and the lives of their students.”  Karen will be missed by all of her CWP colleagues and by the teachers she has worked with during her time as a CWP teacher/consultant.

Karen, I will especially miss your support, enthusiasm, and your positive vibes.  You were always able to help me work through problems and keep me looking at the big picture.  I know you will find lots of wonderful ways to fill up those summer months. Love you!

Karen Hartman

Karen Crawford was my mentor. We team-taught a CWP in Grand Junction one summer.  Karen was up-beat, found the positive asepcts of each participant and their written work, and was unfailingly cheerful, even after staying up late to respond to papers!  She was always thoughtful and deliberate in her written response to people’s writing and left the teachers with new energy for their work.  During our annual retreats and attendance at state conferences, Karen provided encouragement and enthusiasm every day. Along with all these other qualities, Karen exemplified kindness and spread it around freely.  She will be missed!!

Shari VanderVelde

Karen is a delightful, supportive colleague with a beautiful smile and a gentle wit. I loved teaching in Adams 12 with her one summer, and I marveled at her warm laughter, compassionate insights, and deep commitment to teaching writing as an authentic, relationship-based practice. When it comes to the best practices of writing instruction, she is a fierce defender of the true craft. I will miss seeing her at CWP retreats and at CLAS conferences, but I know she’ll be enjoying a joyful retirement life either traveling to beautiful places around the world or enjoying her lovely home in Colorado Springs with her beloved hummingbirds. I will miss you, Karen! Thanks for your amazing energy and caring, humane spirit!

Tim Hillmer  

I first met Karen Crawford when I was new to the profession.  We ended up on a team of 9th grade English teachers from across the state doing professional development, and I was immediately enamored of Karen’s sweetness and serene, earnest manner.  She was a natural leader of our group, and she made us laugh with her at her funny observations, while also keeping us on track. 

Years later, when I met Karen again, we were joined together by the Colorado Writing Project.​  Along with our amazing team of teacher consultants, Karen and I always shared a bunch of laughs as we planned our CWP workshops each spring.  I also team taught one summer at Cherry Creek with Karen, staying at the same hotel and getting coffee every morning and dinner every evening.  We reflected on our teaching and enjoyed planning and each other’s company.  I know my teaching was enhanced that summer by all the conversation and collaboration I shared with Karen.

Karen’s legacy for me, among many other things, is that she reminds me of the importance of the soft skills and the special touches – in teaching and in life.  From using pretty paper for responses to student writing to coffee mugs with special sayings to her tiny little home on her tiny little street, Karen Crawford has made a difference in my life.

Sheila Kaehny

I will miss Karen Crawford’s infectious energy. She leaves a considerable legacy through the Colorado Writing Project via all the teachers who were lucky to get to work with her.  Her absence at the table during our annual CWP planning retreats will be palpable. She has been a source of encouragement and support for me in my work with teaching colleagues through CWP and in my own writing endeavors (thank you for the mug with the inspirational words that I put in front of me as I write).  I’m sorry I never had the opportunity to co-teach a CWP workshop with Karen. I know it would have been memorable and that I would have learned so much from her. 

Sarah M. Zerwin

It’s hard to imagine CWP without Karen Crawford. From the very start, she was by my side, first as a participant where we learned from the brilliance of Judy Gilbert and then as a teacher consultant. Her love of teaching, of the students and teachers she taught, and of powerful writing instruction was contagious and inspiring. A comment from a teacher this summer about Karen captures the impact she had on others. This teacher told me that Karen was her teacher consultant for CWP 1 and that each day was a love fest: for the community of writers, for the writing itself, for each individual. At the end of each day, this teacher hugged Karen as she left and since she wasn’t a hugger, she knew it was Karen’s care that created that need. So as Karen transitions to other endeavors in her life, she’s leaving behind many hugs and memories that matter for our kids.

Karen, here’s a hug from all of us to you.

Stevi Quate

CWP Co-sponsors Colorado Day of Writing

CWP co-sponsored a Day of Writing for teachers on April 7, 2012.

Twenty-four teachers attended the session in Colorado Springs led by CWP Director, Karen Hartman. Host, Vince Puzick, gave the following report of the day:

After a 90 minute workshop session with Karen Hartman to get our narrative juices flowing and ground us in the idea of teacher stories, the participants wrote independently for the next three hours. When we gathered together to share our writing at the end of that time, we had a rich tapestry of teacher stories. Our narratives ranged from humorous lessons during TCAP preparation, to emotionally moving accounts of teacher-student interactions, to articulated frustrations when the cry for more accountability crashes into our plea for more authentic experiences for our students. As is usually the case after experiencing writing workshop and sharing our writing, a small community of teacher-writers came together and shared in meaningful ways.

Participants had this to say about the day:

This was a shot in the arm for me! I love that there was time to write deeply. When is the next one?

Excellent conference–I want to use the line “Who needs to hear this story and why?” in my class.

Today was a wonderful opportunity to get to sit and organize my thoughts and to be reminded that, as a teacher, I have to take the time to tell my story.

CWP Consultant Co-Authors Book

steviquateStevi Quate’s career in education has spanned many years as a secondary teacher, service as State Literacy Coordinator for the Colorado Department of Education and a professor at University of Colorado at Denver.  She embodies that dictum that teachers of writing must also be writers themselves.  Her recent book, Clock Watchers (Heinemann), draws on all her experience and addresses what she and her co-author, John McDermott, felt was an essential and necessary focus of their teaching: “How can I motivate my students and then create a context that will engage them?”  Clock Watchers is their powerful answer to that question—a plan that gets kids to care about learning and truly engage with the curriculum.

Quate and McDermott apply the research on motivation and engagement to support increased achievement and improved attitudes about school, using a framework that:

  • catches students’ interest across the content areas
  • holds it through meaningful learning and valuable interactions
  • uses assessment to create further opportunities to connect kids with content
  • sustains it all with ideas for projects, activities, and even classroom routines and rituals.

The book has received positive reviews from educators who have used its ideas and strategies to address issues of motivation with a variety of students across the grade levels.  Congratulations to Stevi.

CWP Grad Publishes Novel

Sharon McAnear of Durango recently wrote to CWP to announce the publication of her first novel, Corner of Blue.

Dear Karen,

Thank you, Colorado Writing Project, for lighting a fire under my pen to publish a novel. As of last week, my first novel,  Corner of Blue, is on the bookshelf of our local bookstores as well as all the online booksellers’ sites! It is the first in a series of five novels that all began with a short story I wrote in Karen Crawford’s CWP class here in 2001. The first chapter begins with that very story. The CWP pen Karen gave me was the same one that I used to sign the contract with my publisher. No lie.

Thanks again,

Sharon McAnear

Congratulations, Sharon!

CWP Consultant Publishes 2nd Novel

hillmer3Tim Hillmer’s 2nd novel, Ravenhill. explores school violence through the eyes of multiple characters on a fateful day in a public high school. Reviewer Clay Evans of the Boulder Daily Camera says the book “bravely addresses some tough issues for both kids and adults. Ravenhill is a fast, compelling read that offers a vivid, realistic glimpse into a (white, middle-class) school environment.”

Hillmer works with early career teachers in the Boulder Valley School district in addition to his position as a teacher consultant with the Colorado Writing Project. His first novel, The Hookmen, received the The Colorado Fiction Award and grew out of Tim’s other passion, guiding river rafts.

Both books are available at

CWP Collaborates in South Africa

shiela_sa.jpg.w300h229In June 2006, CWP Director, Karen Hartman, and consultants Sheila Kaehny and Stevi Quate spent 2 weeks in Dundee, South Africa, at the invitation of the South African Writing Project, working with teachers in the township schools there.

They worked at a high school in the township with about 35 teachers over 10 days. CWP had sponsored two teachers from Dundee the previous summer, Sizwe and Mpume Mchunu, to come to Colorado and participated in the summer CWP I workshop. They each spent an additional two weeks helping two of our consultants teach CWP I, so that they experienced the course both as student and teacher.

The South African North Star Writing Project helped arrange for CWP to come to Dundee in to work directly with a larger group of teachers.