Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield’s Ubuntu Academy Recognized With Outstanding College/Community Writing Award

Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield’s Ubuntu Academy Recognized With Outstanding College/Community Writing Award

Students at Ubuntu Academy

Lambert Mlule and Emmanuel Nkurunziza exchanging knowledge through a writer’s notebook. Photo by Jason Miczek.

Ubuntu Academy has impacted 900 students and 200 teachers over six years to support community-based writing.

The Coalition of Community Writing awarded Fairfield University with an outstanding college/community writing award in recognition of Ubuntu Academy, a partnership between the Connecticut Writing Project and teachers in Bridgeport Public Schools, and Fairfield University’s Refugee Youth Mentoring Program. The award honors high-impact initiatives developed or sustained through university/college-community partnerships that embody a spirit of collaboration and reciprocity. The Coalition of Community Writing supports community-based writing through research, teaching, publications, workshops and conferences, and public writing projects about, with, for, and by local, global and online communities. CWP-Fairfield was one of them.

“The scale of impact is great,” wrote an anonymous reviewer of CWP-Fairfield’s nomination. “[Reaching] 900 students and 200 teachers over six years. Students teach the teachers what methods of writing instruction work best for them.”

Since 2014, CWP-Fairfield has led institutes for educators and Young Adult Literacy Labs for young people, grades 3-12. Ubuntu Academy is taught by William King MA '16, teacher at Bassick High School, and Jessica Baldizon MA ’15, teacher at Cesar Battalla K-8, two schools in Bridgeport, who also established Hope Club, a mentoring program between their schools that arrived from their Ubuntu Academy work.

“William and Jessica are graduates of the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions at Fairfield University,” said Bryan Ripley Crandall, PhD, who was in Philadelphia to receive the award with Betsy Bowen, PhD, faculty chair of Service Learning and professor in English. “The two of them are exceptional educators who work with the University to provide learning opportunities for the young people they serve.” Ubuntu, a South African philosophy for togetherness and collaboration, celebrates community and an individual’s role with other human beings.

“CWP-Fairfield combines a powerful philosophical core with clear and compelling outcomes and deserves the attention of everyone in our field (and beyond),” read Dr. Allen Brizee, associate professor of writing and faculty director for community-engaged learning and scholarship at Loyola University Maryland, as he shared some of the reviewer’s comments. “I admire how the program has evolved so that refugee and immigrant student writers are educating the National Writing Project teacher participants about their lived experiences and writing needs.”

Since 2014, the project has partnered the Connecticut Writing Project, Fairfield University, and Ubuntu Academy, to serve over 900 young people, grades 3-12, and 200 teachers. These writing relationships have bloomed into yearlong collaborations between university, teachers, school clubs, service- learning courses, cross-district partnerships, and literary festivals. Melissa Quan, director of the Center for Faith and Public Life, nominated the University for the award.



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