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The Northern California Writing Project is a professional development organization devoted to improving the teaching of writing in our service region.

April 2022
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Meet the NCWP 2022 Summer Institute Fellows!

Meet the NCWP 2022 Summer Institute Fellows!

We are excited to introduce the invited fellows for the NCWP Summer Institute! This summer, we are offering our Summer Institute in a new, extended format to allow for deeper engagement and community support as we navigate exciting and challenging ideas together. Please welcome the new cohort to the network of National Writing Project teachers! We are so excited to bring this group together to think about the teaching of writing through conversations about equity, anti-racist approaches to course design, and ways to create dynamic communities in education.


Grace Adcock has been teaching for over a decade. She is currently an English teacher and instructional coach at Shasta High School in Redding, CA. After being raised in the north state and attending Shasta College she completed a B.A. in Human Communication with a minor in Outdoor Recreation and Education at CSU Monterey Bay. She then traveled the world for a year and went back to school to obtain her Masters Degree in Education along with her Single Subject English, Multiple Subject, and Mild/Moderate Special Education credentials from CSU Chico.  She taught Special Education in Juvenile Detention Facilities and E.D. programs in the Bay Area at the start of her career before moving back to Redding where she lives with her daughter and husband. Teaching is her major passion in life and she hopes to instill a love for seeking adventure, learning, and being a member of a compassionate community in her students. When not in the classroom, she fills her time with traveling,  outdoor recreation, and baseball. She has lofty goals to visit all 7 contents (6 down, 1 to go!), attend a game at all 30 MLB parks (one-third complete), and visit a new national park every year. 


Joseph Hill teaches English and Video Games as Literature at the Inspire School of Arts and Sciences.  Before taking the plunge into teaching, Joseph worked for 6 years as a bartender in both Davis and Chico.  In Chico, he worked at both The Handlebar and The Winchester Goose (which is now sadly defunct).  Originally from a one stoplight town in East Texas, he spent some time in Austin before moving to Davis, California with his partner.  In Davis, he received a masters degree in English Literature with a creative writing focus.  After his partner received a job offer at Chico State, Joseph came to Chico.  He has taught at Inspire for the last three years, and began his teaching career in the middle of the pandemic. He is particularly interested in the gamification of education and using video games as another(alternate) mode of literacy.  He is excited to learn and grow as an educator.   At Inspire, he serves as the Advisory coordinator and is also a member of the Equity team.  He also advises the Gay/Straight Alliance and the Film Appreciation Club.


Jania Johnson graduated from Chico State with a Bachelors in English in 2017 where she was named the Outstanding Bachelors of English for her graduating year. In 2018, she completed her residency in the 12-month RiSE program where she also earned her Masters in Education.  She has been at Oroville High School for five years: one year as a student teacher and four years independently in the classroom. Jania teaches English 10, English 10 Honors, and AP Language and Composition. For the upcoming school year she will also begin teaching ELD. She has a passion for rhetoric and composition and loves to unpack the power of language with her students. When not in the classroom, she enjoys reading (duh!), hiking, and folding pajamas with humans still inside (a.k.a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). 


Cristy Kidd is a Bay Area native, now living and teaching in Redding, CA. She teaches Communication Studies at Shasta College and, starting in the fall, will be teaching at SCOE’s Independent Study program. She has an inherent inability to grasp the concept of “finishing” school, herself, and, as a result, has a B.A. in Communication, a M.A. in Mass Communication and Public Relations — both from University of the Pacific–and a M.Ed. with an emphasis in ELL Education from National University. Cristy spent two years as part of a cohort exploring effective teaching practices through the Association of University and College Educators, has been certified in ERWC curriculum and, now, is absolutely delighted to be a part of the Northern California Writing Project’s Summer Institute for the second time. Prior to teaching, Cristy worked in marketing and public relations, which she was successful at, but also miserable doing. Enter: education. Outside of school-life, Cristy is an avid reader, has been dancing since she was two, loves to bake, plays Dungeons & Dragons at least once a week, and lives for live music. She is married and the “mom” to two fur-babies. (And, yes, she does sleep, but she also lives for coffee).


Ashley Martinez is from the Los Angeles area and graduated from Chico State with a B.A. in English Education, minor in Organizational Communication, and a teaching credential. Currently, she teaches 8th grade Language (Writing) in Marysville Joint Unified. She has taught for 10 years, all in middle school and wouldn’t have it any other way. She started a Drama program and Literacy Committee at her school, in addition to being a new teacher mentor. When not working, she enjoys watching t.v., eating good food, and spending time with her husband and two sons. Ashley strives to provide her students with opportunities to think and write critically, while providing the best practices for instruction.


Zack O’Neill has a BA in English from UC Santa Barbara (2000), a Master’s in English from Sacramento State University (2008), and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of South Carolina (2011). He has writing fellowships from the University of South Carolina (2008) and the University of Houston (2012), and has published a short story collection and novella at a small press in New York City (2017 and 2019). His website comphaunt.com has regular updates with stories about education, blog posts, and teaching materials instructors can use.


Dana Paz received her BA in Social Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2005. She lived and worked in her native Guatemala as a grant writer for international development projects for 12 years, writing grants in Spanish and English for large-scale projects in rural communities. She relocated back to California with her family and received her Masters in Education at Chico State in 2019. She is in her third year of teaching English Language Arts to 7th and 8th graders at CK Price Intermediate School in Orland, CA. As an immigrant from Guatemala who found academic success relatively late in life, Dana strives to build her students’ confidence in listening to their own voice and writing their own truths, sharing mentor texts from all walks of the wide world we live in. When she’s not teaching, writing or reading, Dana enjoys long bike rides, hiking, yoga and running. She’s also learning piano so she can jam with her 15 year-old son and her husband, who play the drums and guitar (respectively). 


Hillary Pierce teaches sixth grade at Chico Country Day Charter School. She is a recent transplant to Chico due to her spouse’s work in agriculture. Hillary grew up in Santa Cruz, went to high school in Italy, and after graduating from UC Berkeley in 2005, spent most of her adult life in New Mexico following a fateful long-distance bike tour to the area. Hillary enjoys the sense of community and endless variety of life in the classroom, and also seeks learning opportunities in a broader context. She has taught in kitchens, science and history museums, gardens, and wildlands. She is currently busy amassing and muddling through more books than are possible to read in a single human lifetime and/or poking around in the forest hoping to identify wild culinary mushrooms.


Denai Rubio is a Fourth grade teacher in Chico CA at a K-8 school.  She got her multi-subject teaching credential at Chico State in 2020, 15 years after she first graduated from Chico State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography.  She went back to school to get her teaching credential after spending time helping in her children’s classroom and realizing that she loved teaching. When she is not in the classroom you can find her spending time outdoors with her family.  She loves camping, backpacking and traveling.  She hopes to pass along her love of reading and writing to her students and is excited to be a part of The Northern California Writing Project. 


Marta Shaffer is a third-year English teacher at Oroville High School. She graduated from Chico State University with her BA in 2015, and her MA in English – Creative Writing in 2018. She worked as a first-year composition instructor at Chico State during and after her grad program. She quickly realized her strengths as a teacher lied (lay?) in celebrating students’ birthdays and giving them band-aids, rather than knowing how to properly use “lie” and “lay,” so she decided to pursue her single-subject teaching credential in the fall of 2018. She strives to create an antiracist, decolonized classroom where each student can see themself represented in the curriculum. At home, she enjoys watching Rick and Morty with her partner and their dog, cross-stitching, gardening, and laying (lying?) in her hammock. 


Kendall M. Smith is a high school English teacher at Willows High School. She was awarded Teacher of the Year in April 2022. She serves as the Varsity Girls Tennis coach, faculty support for the GEAR UP Program, an advisor for the Interact Club, co-advisor for the Junior Class, and is currently writing the curriculum pathway for Ethnic Studies. She completed her Master’s in Education with an option in Curriculum and Instruction through the Residency in Secondary Education (RiSE) Program at Chico State in 2017. Prior to that, she was an English tutor for Burmese refugees in Chiang Mai while studying abroad in Thailand as a Gilman International Scholarship recipient. The travel bug has since then inspired her adventures throughout Southeast Asia and Australia. During the summer she teaches for the Upward Bound Program at California State University, Chico where she helps students write personal statements for college admission. In her spare time, she enjoys plotting her next adventure, trail running, paddle boarding with her husband, kickboxing with friends, and studying Vedic meditation with some yoga in between.


Jera Verboom teaches English and ELD at Orland High School. She is the GATE advisor and a member of the EL Task Force and SEL Team. She is finishing her third year teaching in the U.S. and has also taught abroad in Tanzania, Egypt, and India. Jera holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a focus in international relations from California State University, Chico, and earned her single subject teaching credential and a master’s degree in education through Chico State’s RiSE program in 2019. She is a proponent of culturally relevant classroom libraries and the purposeful allocation of time for independent reading and journaling. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and animals (dogs and horses), reading, and traveling.

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