James Gray, the founder of the National Writing Project, died Nov. 1 in Danville, Calif., after a long illness. He was 78.
A former high school teacher and senior lecturer at the graduate school of education at the University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Gray founded the Bay Area Writing Project in 1974. The first meetings of the group brought together 25 successful teachers and asked them to share their expertise about the teaching of writing.
Now known as the National Writing Project, the professional-development program based at the UC-Berkeley, has grown to 189 university-based sites across the nation. Each site holds an annual summer institute, after which participants conduct programs sponsored by the project in their schools and districts.
The program, largely supported by federal grants, is credited with helping to change classroom practice and improve students’ writing. More than 100,000 teachers a year take part.