2006 Graduate Dean's Award for Outstanding Commitment to Sponsored Programs

Dr. Helen Sitler
Associate Professor, English Department
Project Title: South Central Pennsylvania Writing Project

Dr. Helen Sitler, Associate Professor of English, has been employed at Indiana University of Pennsylvania since 1997. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses and is highly involved with program and curriculum development projects. She has been a frequent presenter at national, state, and regional forums, such as the National Council of Teachers of English. Dr. Sitler also belongs to numerous professional organizations and is a tireless participant in university committees and local groups. Dr. Sitler has been a consistent player in the arena of grants and has been awarded over $108,000 in a series of successfully funded projects since 1999.

The South Central PA Writing Project is housed at Indiana University of PA and serves the Armstrong, Butler, Cambria, Indiana, Somerset, Southern Jefferson, Eastern Westmoreland, and occasionally schools from Clearfield, Blair and Bedford Counties. Their goal is to provide high quality professional development workshops to teachers within the identified areas. This concept is a result of changes within legislation which have put more demands on test scores and less funding towards teacher professional development leaving teachers struggling to find effective ways to improve to meet new criteria on their own. Some of the opportunities offered are highlighted below:

  • Opportunities for preschool-college teachers to learn more about reading and writing and how to establish literacy communities in their classrooms
  • Support a teachers-teaching-teachers model of staff development for teachers
  • Encourage teachers to improve their teaching of writing and use of writing as a way of learning by writing
  • Support teachers in the development of demonstration lessons which they may use in presenting workshops and seminars to other teachers
  • Sustain a professional network of teachers who share the values and goals of our site and who will continue their involvement in writing groups and conversations about reading and writing

As a result of her success in managing the SCPA National Writing project, Dr. Sitler has also actively sought additional funding to support writing programs for students.