UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education laments the passing of Jack Phreaner, a co-founder of the South Coast Writing Project (SCWriP) and a longtime teacher candidate mentor. Phreaner passed away at age 84 on September 10, 2011 at home surrounded by family. An English teacher at San Marcos High School, Phreaner taught for the Santa Barbara School District for 41 years; he is remembered at San Marcos HS with the annual Phreaner Writing Awards. Phreaner was co-founder and co-director, from 1978-2009, of SCWriP, a professional development program for teachers of writing and critical literacy. After retiring from San Marcos HS, he mentored newly credentialed and student-teachers through the Teacher Education Program at the Gevirtz School.
“When I had the opportunity to organize a writing project at UCSB in 1979, Jack was the first teacher I thought of as the co-director I needed to help me run the project,” says Sheridan Blau, co-founder and long-time director of SCWriP. “I asked him and he agreed immediately and that began a 30-year partnership that changed our intellectual and professional lives, while opening up opportunities for professional influence and regional and national and international affiliations that neither of us could have imagined. Jack became known throughout the state and nation as a model high school teacher of English and he published articles about teaching in regional and national journals and presented his ideas and teaching practices at regional and national and international conferences. And, of course, he had the pleasure of mentoring and nurturing almost two generations of experienced classroom teachers who came to our writing project summer institutes and follow-up meetings for over 30 years. During that period Jack retired from his high school teaching position, but kept working for SCWriP and eventually for the UCSB Department of Education where he supervised student teachers, taught courses on the teaching of writing, and came to be known as an elder of the profession of English, an enduring resource of wisdom and practical knowledge for all teachers and prospective teachers who wanted to learn from him.”
“Jack was my Master Teacher when I earned my teaching credential, and he truly lived up to that title,” says Tim Dewar, current director of SCWriP. “He taught first period and I was to teach second. I should have been intimidated by his abilities as teacher. That I wasn't speaks to his humility and gentle, guiding hand. When we would talk afterwards about how the lesson had gone, he would often spend as much time critiquing his own teaching as mine, excitedly analyzing what had worked and what hadn't, then offering ideas and plans for the next day. As good as he was in the classroom, he always wanted to be better so that others could be better. The magic he worked in his classroom, I later saw him work in SCWriP, TEP and conferences. No matter the venue, he brought his students together, and we learned. To have worked with Jack gave me both too many riches and now, sadly, I realize, not enough.”
In lieu of flowers, the family wishes that contributions be made to SB Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care in honor of the incredible support and care given by Laura and Alex, to San Marcos High School, or to SCWriP.
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