SUNY Cortland summer teacher's program now open

Shortly after the school year ends, SUNY Cortland’s Summer Institute for teachers begins. And all local educators should be aware of the program’s many benefits, from the $1,000 tuition stipend and professional development credit it offers to the high quality of teaching talent it attracts.

Teachers from all grade levels in all content areas are invited to apply to the three-week program, which focuses on digital writing this year and runs weekdays Monday, June 27, to Friday, July 15. The entire second week of the program, which starts Monday, July 4, will be delivered online.

The application deadline is Sunday, June 12, and space is limited. The program is open to current teachers as well as graduate students looking to enter the profession and even retired educators.

Up to six graduate credits, more than 80 professional development credit hours and a limited number of $1,000 stipends to offset graduate school expenses are available to participants.

“I like to tell people that Summer Institute attracts the colleagues you’ve always dreamed of,” said David Franke, a SUNY Cortland professor of English who leads the Seven Valleys Writing Project. “One of the values of our program is great diversity. These are enthusiastic, creative teachers who are self-selected.”

He’s quick to point out that a three-week seminar devoted to a craft like writing shouldn’t scare teachers away. Elementary school teachers and those from the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines bring added value, he said.

“Writing is a high-risk activity, and what we’re doing is creating safe space to take those risks,” Franke said. “We’re not quoting Shakespeare or correcting each other’s grammar. We’re writing to learn, writing to teach and writing to lead.”

That means focusing on personal writing, research and ways to write collaboratively with others. The Summer Institute will be offered in a hybrid format for the first time in its nine-year run, which means participants will spend the entire second week outside of the classroom. They’ll learn how to use technology to teach writing plus ways to incorporate online writing projects that involve blogs and web research.

“We’re not just telling them, ‘Technology is the wave of the future,’” Franke said. “We do it together in real time.”

Teachers are invited to explore several different forms of expressions during the three weeks, including creative writing, grant writing, memoir writing, letter writing and writing lesson plans. Past participants have traveled from several hours away each day just to attend. They praise the program for its encouraging environment and tangible results.

“Very few people have ever been part of a learning community that really works, and this works,” one Summer Institute graduate wrote in an evaluation.

“We still have to pay homage to state assessments, but through the project, I’ve learned about ways to bridge the gap,” another wrote. “I’ve also become a better writer in the process, and can speak with students from a new position of personal passion and experience as a writer myself.”

One participant put it simply: “I never imagined working so hard during July and liking it so much.”

Complete registration information for the Summer Institute can be found on the Seven Valleys Writing Project website. For more information about tuition, payment or credit, or to ask any questions, contact Franke.