The Great Bear Writing Project of UCA, the local site of the National Writing Project, recently held a meeting at the Whole Hog Café in Conway to announce an upcoming change in leadership and to celebrate the accomplishments of the past 13 years.

Outgoing site director Dr. Stephanie Vanderslice, professor at the University of Central Arkansas and the founding director, officially "passed the Bear" to incoming director Mike Rush, a teacher in the Vilonia school district. The official change in leadership will not happen until the school year ends in May. 

The site began in 1999 and has conducted summer institutes, the gateway program for the site, every summer since. Several of the teachers have left the state or retired; however, roughly 130 teachers working in 20 counties hold the title "teacher consultant," the name given to those having been through the institute.

Through the leadership transition, the purposes of the site, which are introducing new teachers to the National Writing Project, providing continuing education programs for site members and providing professional development to schools in the site’s service area, will remain a top priority.

Teachers and school administrators can contact the site through the University of Central Arkansas Writing Department or through their website at