Our Leadership Team
Principal Investigator, Site Organizer, Mary E. Bowser, Ed.D.
Shenandoah University Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Director of Professional Licensure, President, Literacy Volunteers – Winchester Area
In addition to her work with graduate and undergraduate students Dr. Bowser served as an Associate Director for the University of Virginia’s Young Writers’ Workshop for six years, closely associated with the Central Virginia Writing Project through its use of the mentoring Teacher Consultants and small group instructors in the program.
Under the masterful directorship of Dr. Margo Figgins, the group brought authors to Charlottesville to mentor young writers in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, song, and script writing for the 2-3 week residential summer sessions.
In the Children’s Literature Conference at Shenandoah University, Dr. Bowser has taught the writing section for 24 years connecting teachers with their writing personas, and introducing them to the world of teacher-writers.
In her EDU 632 and 635 classes Dr. Bowser has taught Writing Across the Curriculum and Reading and Writing in the Content Areas for 25 years to enlighten preservice and inservice teachers that all teachers are teachers of reading and writing, and to use writing-to-learn strategies to improve student achievement.
Director Mary K. Tedrow, D.A., NBCT
Currently, a professor in education at Shenandoah University, Mary taught English in the high school classroom from 1978 to retiring in 2016. Her first contact with the National Writing Project was through a Writing-to-Learn course offered by George Mason University in 1981. In 1998, Mary became a fellow of the Summer Institute at the Northern Virginia Writing Project at George Mason. Following that she returned on staff, and again to Co-Direct in two additional Summer Institutes on the Mason campus.
In 2005, Tedrow brought the Summer Institute model to the Shenandoah Valley, co-directing with Joanie Hovatter and Susan McGilvray. The month-long invitational institute was offered first on the campus of Lord Fairfax Community College and then at John Handley High School where Mary taught and served as the Porterfield Endowed English Chair.
Mary holds a doctorate in English pedagogy from Murray State University. She received a BA from Shepherd University and her M.Ed. from Shenandoah University. In 2001 she achieved National Board status in English Language Arts for Young Adults. She served as an adjunct professor for George Mason University from 1999-2014, Shenandoah University, and currently with Johns Hopkins University. She was the 2001 Frederick County Teacher of the Year and served on the NEA Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching from 2010-11. Tedrow was named an Inspiring Educator in 2012 and a Distinguished Alumni of Shenandoah University in 2013. Mary has authored numerous education-related articles and been published in Education Week, Teacher Magazine, and the NWP The Quarterly. Her education policy debate still exists online through her blog Walking to School. In 2018 her book Write, Think, Learn: Tapping the Power of Daily Student Writing Across the Content Areas was published by MiddleWeb and Routledge publications.
Co-Director Susan Fiatte-McGilvray, M.Ed., NBCT
Susan Fiatte-McGilvray is a teacher, writer and literacy coach. Her journey with the National Writing Project began at the University of New Hampshire in 1991 for their Summer Institute. The experience was life-changing. In 2004, she was again inspired, with the encouragement of Mary Tedrow, Director of the SWP, to attend the Summer Institute at George Mason University. She was nominated by her Fellows as the Continuity Liaison and began attending board meetings of the Northern Virginia National Writing Project. The following year she joined Mary in the initial SI for the satellite site in the Shenandoah Valley and has continued working with the Project since that time.
She has taught special education and general education in elementary and middle schools and is currently a middle school librarian for Loudoun County Public Schools. She has been nominated as Teacher of the Year in 4 different school districts and has received two national awards for her teaching: The Outstanding Teacher Award from the Council for Learning Disabilities and the Shaklee Outstanding Teacher Award from the Shaklee foundation. She is a National Board Certified Teacher as a Middle Childhood Generalist and recertified in 2008.
McGilvray graduated from the College of Wooster with a degree in Creative Writing and a Master’s in Education from The College of William and Mary with a degree in Resource and Collaborating Teaching. She has an additional Masters from Longwood University. She has received training from Jim Knight at KU in Instructional Coaching and from Kagan in Cooperative Learning Coaching. She is currently a Literacy Coach for Blue Ridge Middle School in Purcellville, VA. She has been an instructor for GMU’s Writing Across the Curriculum graduate course with end-of-course evaluations consistently rated ‘Superior’.
You can find her blog; ‘A Year in the Life of a Writing Teacher’ here: http://awritingteacher.edublogs.org/
The knowledge gained through the Writing Project and the collaboration with other Teacher Consultants informs her work every day.
Co-Director Rhonda Lancaster, M.A., Young Writers
Early in her teaching career, Rhonda completed a Summer Institute and knows it transformed her classroom into an inviting writing space for her students. Since that summer in 2008, Rhonda has been active with the Young Writers’ Workshops and is now serving as President of Project Write, Inc., which offers writing workshops for students in grades 4-12.
Her favorite thing about the Writing Project is the collaborative nature of its professional development with teachers teaching teachers by sharing successful lessons from their classrooms. She promotes the philosophy of the Project through leading the Teachers as Writers program for Frederick County Public Schools.
She holds a BA in literature from Alderson-Broaddus and an MA in creative writing and literature from Fairleigh Dickinson University. A former journalist and director of public relations, she currently teaches dual enrollment English and creative writing at James Wood High School in Winchester, Va.
In addition to her work with the Shenandoah Valley Writing Project, Rhonda is a member of WV Writers Inc. She lives with her husband, two dogs, and a school of fish in Capon Bridge, W.Va.
Donna L. Shrum, B.A. in social studies from the University of Mary Washington, M.A. in English from James Madison University
For the last four years, Donna has been teaching social studies at Central High School in Woodstock, VA. Before that, she taught English for over 20 years at several schools in the county, as well as at Lord Fairfax Community College and James Madison University.
In the spring and summer of 2022, she participated in the Master’s level of the Instytut Pileckiego in Warsaw, Poland, on teaching totalitarianism. Thirty educators from twenty countries attended the online Zoom conference in May, which was followed in July-August in Poland. The week before the conference, Donna traveled to the Czech Republic to visit and research the site of the Nazi labor camp where Penina Weisz Bowman was enslaved in 1944-5. After writing an article about the late Mrs. Bowman in 2018, Donna began writing a book about her based on Mrs. Bowman’s 200-page manuscript that her family shared with Donna.
Since 2020, Donna has been a coach in the Virginia New Teacher Support Program (https://www.jmu.edu/coe/vantsp/index.shtml). She wrote the curriculum for the World History and Geography I freshman program at her school in 2022. She emphasizes global education in her classes by Skyping with classrooms around the world and tying current events to their historical roots outside the U.S. She became the co-director of the C3WP when it was inaugurated in Title I schools in 2016. Her current teacher research project is connecting the Harkness and other forms of discussion used in her classes to argument writing.
Donna is also a freelance writer with publications in education and history. Her first publication was in 1998, an article identifying actor Paul Robeson’s influence on a Willa Cather novel. It is now included in all Cather studies bibliographies. She has been a regular contributor to Georgia Backroads for thirteen years and to Larry Ferlazzo’s EdWeek blog for three.
Shea Perry currently teaches English and creative writing at Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville, Virginia where she has been teaching for six years. Shea taught in Frederick County, Virginia, at Millbrook High School for thirteen years prior to teaching at LVHS.
Shea was introduced to the SVWP during the summer of 2005 and has been working with the SVWP ever since. She loves joining Project Write workshops and working with young writers as well as directing the summer leadership program and working with other educators.
As a graduate of Radford University with a B.S. in English and an M.A. in English, Shea’s passion has always been teaching writing, but more importantly, offering others the opportunity and space to discover the writers within themselves.
When Shea is not teaching, she can be found at her home in West Virginia. There, she lives with her husband, Jason, three cats, and three very large dogs. She values time with her family and quiet time in the mountains.