This summer, APSCUF is going behind the scenes to show how faculty members and coaches continue to devote themselves to affordable, quality education even when class is not in session.
Like everyone, I look forward to summer: the good weather, some time spent in nature, and a chance to sit around the firepit in the evenings. However, my summers are not “off,” as many people might assume. Summer is the time to amp up the research agenda, prep for fall classes, complete administrative projects, and finish writing projects that develop out of conference experiences. What follows is an abbreviated list of my summer workload, divided into projects:
SURE research: This summer, one of my students was awarded a SURE grant: a Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. As a writing fellow, she works with my writing students and supports their progress over the course of the semester. We are co-authoring an article describing the writing fellow program at Shippensburg University.
First-year writing director: As the director of first-year writing at Ship, I develop programming that supports writing instruction and tutoring. This summer, I am working with an intern who is developing new publicity materials for the tutoring center and the writing program. Thus far, she has developed a brochure, a bookmark, posters, and a newly revamped Facebook page for our writing lab. I also train writing faculty and develop programming for students. I will host a training retreat for faculty in mid-August.
Writing placement: As first-year writing director, I am also responsible for running Writing Placement over the summer. In the spring, I recruit and train the Placement readers, and we begin reading and placing students by March. I continue to organize and facilitate placement all through the summer. I train orientation faculty advisers and help the administration determine the correct number of developmental writing courses.
Research/writing projects: I attended a writing conference in October, and I developed a writing project with my colleagues. We have been working on our article since then, but we made the most progress once the semester ended in May. I spent a week at a writing bootcamp at the beginning of May that helped kick-start my research and writing. I spent a full week writing, submitted the article, and heard in July that it was accepted. I also co-edit the academic journal Proteus: A Journal of Ideas, and I am writing the editor’s introduction to the latest issue.
Service-learning and teaching: My writing courses are designed as service-learning courses; most assignments ask students to learn more about a community issue and then write for or with a community member. To create more effective and meaningful assignments, I joined a local nonprofit, the Shippensburg Community Resource Coalition, and helped to develop projects that would benefit the community, such as the Shippensburg Summer Lunch Program and the pilot of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program in Shippensburg. These projects provide my students with hands-on research and writing experiences.
President of the English Association of Pennsylvania State Universities: During the Spring 2016 semester, I was voted in as president of EAPSU, the English association that links all 14 sister schools in the State System. This summer, we are revamping our website and creating a new, more professional online presence. We are also rebranding our journal, soliciting new reviewers and essays, and advertising our fall conference.
Hiring faculty: Several of my colleagues have retired in recent years, but our department has not been given tenure-track lines to replace these faculty. We have searches to replace these faculty on a year-by-year basis, and I attend the teaching demonstrations and meet the candidates over dinner or lunch.
Training new writing fellows: Once we determine how many developmental classes we will offer in the fall, I will work with the director of The Writing Studio to recruit, hire, and train writing fellows. Once they are hired, I will meet with my fellow once a week during the semester as we both work to support my writing students.
Prepping for fall semester: During the summer, I research new textbooks and revise my syllabi for the coming semester.
Preparing for Welcome Week: I am co-chair of the service-learning portion of Welcome Week. With my colleagues, I will help choose and develop service projects for incoming students, and I run a service project of my own the Saturday before the semester starts.
Laurie Cella is an associate professor of English at Shippensburg University.