Heather Bruce: Director
An associate professor of English, Heather Bruce co-directs the English Teaching program at the University of Montana, where she teaches courses in theories and pedagogies of teaching, composition theory, and literacy studies. She received her Ph.D. in composition, rhetoric, and literacy from the University of Utah in 1997. Heather's interest in the exclusions and challenges faced by adolescent girls in school -- and her interests in women's studies and feminist issues more broadly -- informs her book Literacies, Lies, & Silences: Girls Writing Lives in the Classroom (Peter Lang, 2003). She has published widely in several professional journals, and is also the author of Conversations in Context: Reading, Writing, and Knowing at the University (with co-authors Kathryn Fitzgerald, Sharon Stasney, and Anna Vogt) and contributor to Peer Response Groups in Action: Writing Together in the Secondary Schools (Karen Spear, ed.) In her scholarship and in her teaching, Heather seeks to promote a more equitable classroom and a more humane and peaceful social order.
David Christensen: Co-Director
David Christensen, a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Montana specializing in literacy, has taught at the 5-8 level for 18 years. As Co-Director of the Montana Writing Project, he works with teachers from across the state of Montana, deepening their knowledge of pedagogy and the connection of pedagogy to research in the teaching of writing via an intensive four-week Summer Institute through the English Department at the University of Montana. Mr. Christensen currently serves as the Elementary Representative-at-Large on the Executive Committee for the National Council of Teachers of English which has provided him the opportunity to indulge his academic passions by contributing to the creation of policy in the areas of multi-modal literacy, research in teaching, writing, assessment, teacher quality, as well as adolescent and young adult literacy. As a father of four children under the age of 10, his home life is much more fulfilling and busy than his professional life - soccer, gymnastics, piano, dance, softball and numerous other adventure opportunities unfold daily.
Christa Umphrey: Technology Liaison, Editor of MWP Journal
Christa taught high school English, drama and creative writing in Ronan High School for seven years, before leaving in 2005 to finish her master's degree in English and to teach composition at the University of Montana. Her high school classes focused much of their time on effectively incorporating new technologies into research, writing and publication processes, as did her college classes in the digital writing classroom. After growing up and teaching in rural Montana on the Flathead Indian Reservation she has devoted much of her professional work to exploring ways to increase students' awareness and understanding of Native American issues and history. Her work throughout her career as a mentor teacher and demonstration site with the Montana Heritage Project also developed and supported her interest in community studies and helping students bring the important people and places in their lives into the classroom. Currently, when she is not working on technology issues with the Writing Project, she runs a childcare facility in St. Ignatius and attempts to keep up with her own three children's ever-increasing collection of activities.
Wendy Z. Warren: Co-Director, Columbus Summer Institute
Wendy Z. Warren, a teacher with over twenty years of classroom experience in grades 1-8, currently teaches writing-oriented Language Arts classes to seventh graders in Columbia Falls and serves as the district’s Indian Education for All Coordinator. She also writes and edits classroom materials, including a quarterly journal, with the goal of supporting teachers in implementing Indian Education for All in their classrooms. In the summers, she is a responder on NWP’s E-Anthology. She is fascinated by her continued learning in the areas of the teaching of writing, American Indian history and contemporary life, and incorporating issues of social justice into her teaching. Her own adventures in writing serve as a case study in the fear that accompanies a writer’s growth. She lives with her husband, two dogs and two cats in a small off-the-grid cabin on a lake north of Whitefish. A long-time skier and hiker, she has recently discovered the joys of campfires, ice-skating and chopping wood.
Kathleen A. Connelly Kipp: Co-Director, Browning Summer Institute
Kathleen A. Connelly Kipp is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe from Browning, Montana. She is married to Joe Kipp and they have four children, a bunch of cows, some horses, and four dogs. Kathy teaches Kindergarten and first graders P.E./Health, reading and writing. She has been teaching for 28 years. The family ranches and guides for fish, birds, and big game. They have also hosted the Writing Project camp out for the past couple years. Kathy has assisted the writing class in June.
Casey Olsen: Co-Director, Billings Summer Institute
As a teacher in his fourth year of experience, Casey Olsen has taught language arts classes to students at all secondary levels. Casey experienced the Montana Writing Project firsthand as a fellow at the 2005 Summer Institute, an event that he credits as the greatest inspiration to his teaching practices. Casey has shared his ideas on teaching and writing practices at the Montana Educators' Association state conference and has been called upon within his district to advise on writing practices across content areas. Through his experience with the Montana Writing Project, Casey has implemented an identity-based classroom strategy that encourages his students to define and express themselves in the language arts classroom through reading, writing, deliberation, and discourse. A fly-fisherman, middle school wrestling coach, rodeo cowboy, and aspiring poet, Casey thoroughly enjoys the outdoors and Montana lifestyle with his wife, a first grade teacher.
Lorrie Henrie-Koski: Co-Director, Billings Summer Institute
For the past 18 years, Lorrie Henrie-Koski has shared her love of reading and writing with her middle school students, marveling at the insight young minds hold. A life-long learner, Lorrie holds a Master's Degree in Teaching from Grand Canyon University and hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction in the near future. She has presented numerous teacher training sessions for the ACE Curriculum Consortium. She has presented for the Montana Writing Project at the Great Falls Rural Conference and at the 2006 MEA-MFT Conference. She serves as the facilitator for the Columbus School District Language Arts Standards Committee. On the personal front, Lorrie enjoys skiing, reading, and spending time with her husband, daughter, and son.