Designed as a community of teachers networking, studying, and sharing effective practices to enhance youth writing, the National Writing Project (NWP) is housed on 175 college campuses across the U.S. Under the direction of Associate Professor Bryan Ripley Crandall, PhD, since 2011, Fairfield University’s chapter is thriving, with programs for students and for refugees, as well as those for teachers.
“One of the great things about the NWP is that it’s a network, not a franchise, so each of our 175 locations has its own personality,” said Tanya Baker, director of national programs for the NWP. “Bryan brings an amazing energy to Fairfield University’s location, especially with his unique talent for bringing people together. Plus, he’s got an incredible connection to the world of Young Adult literature and its authors.”
As the two were mulling over ideas to commemorate the NWP’s 50th anniversary, Dr. Crandall proposed gathering 50 Young Adult writers to share their stories and talk about their craft. The goal, as with all NWP projects, was to grow a network of teacher-leaders committed to advancing the art of writing among students.
When Covid-19 struck and all programming moved online, The Write Time podcast was born. Each 45-minute podcast begins and ends with a three-minute writing prompt, and features an interview between a Young Adult or Children’s author and a teacher who is part of the NWP community.
Dr. Crandall contacted Kristin Schultz ’11, currently the senior manager of school marketing at Random House, who was eager to help sign up the writers in her network. “I am amazed at how lucky I am to be getting some top-notch, award winning writers,” said Dr. Crandall. “We’ve had Jerry Craft, this year’s Newbery winner, and Laurie Halse Anderson, Matt de la Peña, and so many more. Graphic illustrator and writer Gene Luen Yang just received a Harvey Award, and he was featured on the test run for The Write Time. And Candice Illoh, so deserved, is a National Book Award finalist.”
Teacher after teacher told us about the need for diverse books in their classrooms, and we decided to make it our mission to help kids and teachers find the books that represent the young people we teach, with stories they can relate to.
— Associate Professor Bryan Ripley Crandall, PhD
The Write Time Podcast has been growing in popularity, with each episode averaging 1,200 to 1,700 views on Facebook alone. The show was originally designed for teachers, and several have told Dr. Crandall they’re using it in their classrooms. “But I began to realize that parents are at home and desperate for material for their kids, so there is a broader digital online audience for this,” said Dr. Crandall.
“We started out with the idea of giving parents and tweens access to the authors they loved and were inspired by,” added Dr. Crandall. “Teacher after teacher told us about the need for diverse books in their classrooms, and we decided to make it our mission to help kids and teachers find the books that represent the young people we teach, with stories they can relate to.”
That’s a mission for which he’s particularly well suited. “Bryan just knows how to connect young people with the just-right books at the just-right moment to achieve the best writing,” said Baker.
The Write Time podcast was broadcasted weekly during the summer, and now runs twice a month.
The article originally appeared at "news@fairfield."