Laura Tracy Baisden Writing Award

Laura Tracy Baisden Award for Exemplary Teaching of Writing

The West Virginia writing community lost a friend and advocate in 2018 with the untimely passing of Laura Tracy Baisden. During her two decades as a Logan County educator and member of the National Writing Project, Ms. Baisden touched countless lives with her generosity, compassion, and dedication to the craft of writing. The Central WV Writing Project wishes to celebrate the life and work of Laura Tracy Baisden by establishing a memorial award that will recognize an exemplary teacher of writing within West Virginia. The award will be presented annually at West Virginia Young Writers Day.
Nomination Form


Nominees must:

  • be teachers of writing in public or private schools in grade 1-12 in the state of West Virginia
  • have at least one year, full-time teaching experience.

Self-nominations will not be accepted. Teachers, administrators, and supervisors from grades 1-12 are invited to make a nomination by completing the online form found below. The deadline for nominations is December 8, 2023.

Submission Materials

Nominees will be notified by December 15, 2023 and invited to submit documentation for this award.  Candidates who accept the nomination will submit documentation by January 31, 2024.

Submission materials include:

  • an original lesson plan for a writing assignment reflective of the values and practices of the candidate
  • 2-3 artifacts of student work that capture elements of the lesson
  • a 300-500 word essay on the values and practices that inform the candidate’s teaching of writing

Submit all materials in a single Word or PDF document.

Evaluation Process

A Selection Committee composed of teacher-leaders of the Central West Virginia Writing Project will evaluate the submissions and decide who will receive the Laura Tracy Baisden Award for Exemplary Teaching of Writing. The winner will be notified by email in early April 2023 and be recognized at Young Writers Day which is tentatively set for May 3, 2024.

Please direct questions to:
Dr. Stephanie Burdette
Co-Director, Central West Virginia Writing Project
West Virginia State University,
Nomination Form


The 2023 Recipient of the Laura Tracy Baisden Award for Exemplary Teaching of Writing

Dr. MG Gainer

Dr. MG Gainer teaches at Calhoun County Middle High School at Mt. Zion, WV, after 20 years slightly north in Pennsylvania. Living and teaching high school in the same county she grew up in provides a strange juxtaposition of past and present. She is the Faculty Senate President for her building, serves on her building and county leadership teams, and assists other teachers with Teams and writing across the curriculum tasks.

Her bachelor’s in education comes from Glenville State University. At the encouragement of her professors there, she embarked on a massive graduate school adventure. Her Master’s and Doctoral degrees in English come from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

She lives in Calhoun County with her family, where she takes too many pictures of her dog and writes poetry to explain life to herself and anyone interested. She tries to live life by two tenets:  people who aren’t helping don’t get to complain and leave things better than you found them. Having been on the picket line for higher education and now public education, she knows the work must continue if a strong, affordable education is to remain available to all students.  It seems full circle to return to the state where she was introduced to the labor movement by a puppet show about Mother Jones that visited her elementary school.

The 2022 Recipient of the Laura Tracy Baisden Award for Exemplary Teaching of Writing

The 2021 Recipient of the Laura Tracy Baisden Award for Exemplary Teaching of Writing

Adrin Fisher teaches at her alma mater, Fairmont Senior High School. This is her twenty-third year of teaching English. Thousands of students, ranging from grades 7 through 12, have come through her classroom over the years. She currently teaches English 12, Dual-Enrollment College English, and AP Literature and Composition.

Mrs. Fisher achieved her National Board Certification in 2012, won the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award in 2014, and was a finalist for State Teacher of the Year in 2018. Last year she was given the Writing Excellence Award by the NWP at WVU for her blogs on the WVCTE website.

At Fairmont Senior, she has raised money for the humanitarian organization Nuru International, founded a Black History Month Read-In, and co-advised National Honor Society. For the past several years, she has led an English Department PLC that focuses on continuous improvement. The after-school student book club she co-founded, “The Book Was Better Club,” has successfully weathered the pandemic by moving to virtual meetings.

Mrs. Fisher most enjoys being with her family, walking in the woods, and reading, reading, reading.

The 2020 Recipient of the Laura Tracy Baisden Award for Exemplary Teaching of Writing

Stephanie Runion is a Title 1 teacher at North View Elementary in Harrison County, WV.  She has been teaching in WV since 2000 at elementary and middle school grade levels.

Stephanie is a National Board Certified teacher in Literacy/ Reading-Language Arts.  She achieved her initial certification in 2007, and renewed this certification in 2016.

Stephanie has been involved with the National Writing Project @ WVU since 2005.  She participated in the NWP@WVU Summer Institute and also served as its co-director for two summers.  She has been a member of the NWP@WVU Advisory Team since 2006.

In 2018, Stephanie was selected to participate in the George Washington Teacher Institute Fall Residential Program at Mount Vernon in VA.

Stephanie enjoys running, playing tennis, reading, writing, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.


The 2019 Recipient of the Laura Tracy Baisden Award for Exemplary Teaching of Writing

Kayla Yocum
Union Elementary School, Upshur County
As educators, we all dream to teach, inspire, and make a difference in the lives of children. Kayla Yocum, a native of Buckhannon, West Virginia, accomplishes this goal through her current teaching practices and life-long learning opportunities. Kayla is a first-generation college student and a 2014 graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College, where she obtained her Masters of Education Degree as a Reading Specialist and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education. She currently teaches Second Grade at Union Elementary School in Upshur County, where she enjoys sharing her passion for teaching and learning with students, colleagues, and community members.
Within her classroom, Kayla strives to build a strong community that allows students to understand, appreciate, and respect each other’s differences. As an exploratory art, writing provides the opportunity for one’s true colors, emotions, experiences, imagination, and values to emerge. Kayla shares her values and encourages her students to find their voice as they identify values of their own and build on those they have acquired. She sparks students’ interest in writing by allowing them to generate writing ideas, constructively write about their lives and experiences, learn cooperative structures, and listen to one another while expressing interest and appreciation for the writing of others. As students learn and grow together, they become more apt to freely express themselves through writing, where they may not feel comfortable to do otherwise. When asked about her values and practices of writing, Kayla stated, “The stories we share are the foundation of who we are and who we will become. One person can make a difference in the life of a child, and I follow through with my goal of educating, motivating, and encouraging the students who enter my classroom today, tomorrow, and the days to come.”