The co-author team met in February to chat about expanding our team since we knew Deb Frazier would be departing at the end of April. Our main priority was to add a classroom teacher with experience in special education or English as an Additional Language. After we made it public that we were seeking to add a new voice to our team, we discovered two coaches whose experiences would round-out our group of collaborators. Therefore, we decided to bring two contributing writers aboard.
It’s my pleasure to introduce our newest co-author, Marina Rodriguez, who you’ll hear from every other week, as well as two contributing writers, Amy Ellerman and Therapi Zaw-Kaplan, who will post several times each year.
Marina Rodriguez is a fourth grade dual language arts teacher in Texas. She has been teaching fourth grade language arts, in Spanish and English, for over thirteen years. She has an Associate in Liberal Arts degree from East Los Angeles College and a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies and Bilingual Education from Texas A&M University. From 2014 to 2017, she served as a volunteer Education Liaison for a non-profit focused on culture, education, and the arts, awarding scholarships for college students and adults continuing higher education. In 2017, she became a National Writing Project, Heart of Texas Writing Project Teacher Consultant, from the University of Texas at Austin.
Marina is bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural. She is currently the only bilingual Writing Project teacher consultant in her school district. Together with six other Heart of Texas Writing Project teacher consultants, she helps lead CSISD Writing Project. She presents annually at UT Austin’s Writing Project Saturday Workshops and ESC 6 Bilingual/ESL Summer Conferences.
In 2016, Marina joined the writing group, Let’s Write, where she learns from an eclectic and inspiring group of writers, authors, and leaders of literacy. In January of 2017, she entered the world of blogging with her students. Together, they discovered the impact of developing 21st Century Skills. She is humbled to learn, grow, and lead two after school writing clubs called Hour of Blog. In 2018, she became aKidblog Ambassador.
Marina lives in Texas with her husband and sons. She blogs about what happens in her classroom, exploring new learning, and growing at Marina’s Blog (marinarodz.com). You can follow her on Twitter at @mrodz308.
Amy Ellerman began her teaching career with over a decade in grades K-2. She feels 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 her classroom, her practice, and her ongoing professional curiosity. For the past eight years, Amy has worked side by side with teachers and kids as the Instructional Coach at Maple Grove Elementary in Golden, Colorado. She loves the opportunity to teach and learn at all grade levels, K-5, and she values the community’s willingness to collaborate and innovate. The work is complex and rewarding, and she feels so fortunate to be a part of it.
Early in her career, Amy spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer, teaching English as a Foreign Language to university students in Ukraine. She returned home with a deep appreciation for cultural differences, travel, and the passionate intensity that American educators feel for their work.
Amy is involved in literacy leadership at the state level, currently finishing up year three of four in the presidential line of CCIRA, an independent, non-profit literacy organization in Colorado. Amy served as CCIRA’s Conference Chair in 2018—Literacy Renaissance: Invention, Intention, and Close Study—one of the most challenging and hands down best things she has ever experienced. She is deeply committed to supporting the learning of fellow educators, believing all teachers deserve to be part of dynamic, professional communities.
This summer, Amy will be joining the team at Colorado Writing Project. A lifelong writer, Amy always has a number of projects in the works—blog posts, her YA novel (a long-time WIP), the germinating seeds of a professional book. You can find Amy on Twitter @sanderling12 and on her blog, Running to School.
Therapi Zaw-Kaplan has 18 years of teaching experience in Walnut Valley Unified School District. Walnut Valley Unified is located in Walnut, California. She has taught 2nd grade – 5th grade, with most of them teaching 4th grade. Next year, Therapi will transition into a coaching role. It is here where she discovered her passion for developing her students’ writing. She believes our students have so much to teach us about the importance of listening during the writing process, and that when we listen intently to our students, it opens up a beautiful relationship between teacher and student. Ultimately, their writing begins to flourish because they are in a space to be heard. She instills in her students that the magic of writing lives inside of all of them.
Therapi has played a critical role in the implementation of writing workshop in her school district. She provides professional development workshops for teachers during the school year and hosts homegrown writing institutes in the summer. She attends TCRWP summer writing and has participated in their Coaching Institute on Writing. In 2016, Therapi worked as a contributor to ELD Toolkit for the Units of Study kits with Heinemann. In addition, she has collaborated with senior staff developer, Katie Clements on a literary essay project. This project entailed crafting essays that were used as mentor literary essays for students. She feels fortunate to have contributed and collaborated with TCRWP.
She has her B.A. in Liberal Studies from Cal Poly, Pomona and earned her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Cal State Fullerton. She also holds a Reading and Literacy Authorization certificate from the University of Southern California and is Tier 1 Project GLAD certified.
Therapi and her husband have one daughter who attends the school she teaches. They live in Chino, California with an extensive collection of books. She is always on the look-out for a new book to read. As a family, they enjoy hiking local trailheads, but frequent Torrey Pines State Reserve in San Diego often. You may find Therapi on Twitter at @tgkaplan21.
I feel fortunate to have Amy, Marina, and Therapi joining the #TWTBlog team. I am confident we will benefit from their expertise in the months and years to come. Please join me in welcoming them by leaving a comment below.