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Professor Wins Award for Distinguished Service
A quote from John F. Kennedy hangs on the refrigerator of Jack Czajkowski, professor of education. It reads, “One person can make a difference and everyone should try.”
“This quote represents everything that Pat Hunter stood for and what I strive to do in my work as an educator,” Jack said.
Jack was recently awarded the Western Massachusetts Writing Project (WMWP) Pat Hunter Award for distinguished service, and the award’s namesake was invaluable to him. Pat, a long-time public school teacher in Springfield, was instrumental in helping transition Jack from an engineer to an educator.
Jack was teaching middle school science in Montague, Massachusetts in 1997 when he first heard about the dynamic work being done at WMWP, the local branch of the National Writing Project. Pat was involved in WMWP from its inception in 1993, describing the project’s philosophy as “teachers teaching teachers.”
She coached Jack through his first professional development session, a workshop on literacy in reading and writing in social studies and science that he co-presented to a group of para-professionals at Central High School in Springfield. Pat inspired confidence in her protégés by modeling effective ways to relay ideas about what works best in teaching.
“Forever I am grateful to Pat for how she helped me get off to a successful start in my time with WMWP,” Jack said. “Pat was a superhero who wore a sweater instead of a cape, a teacher who wanted her students and colleagues to evolve through the power of the written word.”
The Pat Hunter Award for distinguished service is awarded annually by the WMWP to a member that has made a substantial contribution to the work of the WMWP project and who best exemplifies the values that Pat Hunter embodied in her work with teachers and writers.
For the last 16 years, Jack has presented and participated in dozens of WMWP professional development programs. Recently, he worked with three other WMWP teacher-consultants and members of the faculty at the Donahue Elementary School in Holyoke around ways to integrate literacy into their school curriculum.
“The Western Massachusetts Writing Project has made all the difference to me as a teacher, showing me that writing is the oxygen of the classroom,” Jack said.