By Karen Vocke and Ellen Brinkley
English faculty, area teachers and Third Coast Writing Project teacher consultants across southwest Michigan are saddened by the recent death of Lynn Welsch, a middle school English language arts teacher at Fennville Middle School. She retired from teaching at the Fennville Public Schools in June of 2010, after 31 years as a seventh grade language arts teacher.
Lynn was a member of the Western Michigan University Third Coast Writing Project (TCWP)’s first Invitational Summer Institute in 1994 with Dr. Ellen Brinkley, director. Lynn continued to be an active participant. Just a few days before she passed away, she was making plans to coordinate a summer workshop for TCWP on the topic of English Language Learners. Lynn was a recent MAET graduate of our department. As a part time instructor, Lynn taught ENGL 3770, Language and Literacy in the Multilingual Classroom.
A longtime advocate and teacher for for migrant and English Language Learners, Lynn focused on the needs of students in Fennville Public Schools whose families spoke little English and often moved away in the fall, returning in the spring. Too often these students were given worksheets and seated in the back of the room. Lynn worked with one of the National Writing Project (NWP)’s special divisions, the English Language Learners Network, to collaborate nationwide with other educators to learn about and to train other educatiors about approaches to teaching that were especially effective in working with English learners.
Lynn regularly lead conference sessions on ELL issues and served as a member of the leadership team for the National Writing Project’s English Language Learners Network. Lynn worked very closely as well with Dr. Karen Vocke on a research project on migrant education in southwest Michigan. Lynn’s chapter on digital storytelling is featured in Karen’s book, Where Do I Go From Here? Meeting the Unique Educational Needs of Migrant Students (Heinemann, 2007).
A memorial service was held on June 17th at the Fennville United Methodist Church where Lynn was a member. She is survived by her husband Douglas W. Welsch; son Justin and Sarah Welsch of Dimondale, MI; daughter Gwendolyn and Brian Lesperance of Okemos, MI; granddaughter Emma Lynn Welsch; mother Margaret AnnaLou Marek of Tinley Park, IL; sister Joan and Rollin Dilworth of Frankfort, IL; and her mother-in-law Ruth Welsch of Fennville, MI.