William Van Cleave Memorial Scholarship Fund
On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, the literacy world unexpectedly lost a phenomenal educator and great friend to many.
William Van Cleave was a presenter at Plain Talk About Literacy and Learning® from 2014 to 2021, with over 2,170 educators choosing to attend his sessions. His high level of enthusiasm, energy, and passion for working with teachers made him a highly-effective presenter. His interactive sessions were always filled with joy and laughter. William made learning fun regardless of who the student was, and the impact he had across the world is immeasurable. His passion was infectious, and his kindness was genuine.
While he presented on many topics, William always said that syntax was his superpower. His colleagues would tell you that he had many superpowers. As a way to honor them all, we have created the William Van Cleave Memorial Scholarship Fund that, through a selection process, will afford chosen educators the opportunity to attend Plain Talk About Literacy and Learning®.
William Van Cleave, MA, was an educational consultant whose specialties included morphology and written expression. An internationally recognized speaker with an interactive, hands-on presentation style, William presented on effective teaching practices at conferences and schools both in the United States and abroad since 1995. Some of William’s more recent projects included consulting with three schools as part of a literacy grant in Montana; participating on the MTSS Writing Standards Committee for the State of Pennsylvania; implementing several Trainer of Trainers projects using his sentence structure approach; and writing a series of workbooks and a companion book on developing composition skills to complement his sentence approach. He authored three books, including Writing Matters and Everything You Want to Know & Exactly Where to Find It, as well as a number of educational tools and activities. Previously, William served as a classroom teacher, tutor, and administrator in the private school arena at various points in his career.
“Syntax lost its exclamation mark.”– Jan Wasowicz
“I miss William immensely, along with his hundreds of other adoring fans. I want to bring him back, even if I could spend just one more afternoon with him. During that afternoon he would make me laugh many times. We would disagree about some word’s etymology and agree on many others. He would teach me something about syntax or morphology that I would be able to use immediately with students or teachers. He’d show me a picture of his mother amidst the new blooms in her garden. We would agree that passion about work and love and life drives everything we do. And I would hug William one last time, an extra-long hug.”
“William Van Cleave left a mark on this world that will not soon be forgotten. He was a man of deep and varied passions, from family to flower gardens, to handwriting and syntax, to helping teachers do their very best. William was an outstanding provider of professional development, especially in the area of writing; once teachers took one of William’s courses they wanted more! William taught from a solid foundation of knowledge and brought his nonstop humor, joie de vivre, and highly engaging style to every session. Many thousands of children from around the world have benefited and will continue to benefit from what William taught their teachers. He was a larger-than-life, gentle giant of a man and he will be profoundly missed by so many, including me.”
“The irrepressible and irreverent William Van Cleave was the most entertaining and affable word nerd I have had the pleasure to learn from.”
“If you had the honor of learning from William Van Cleave or WVC as he was fondly called, it was an experience you never forgot! It marked you, before WVC and after WVC. You always left a session with more knowledge and better practices. You were prepared to give it your all and perhaps even more important you left with a smile on your face and a spring in your step! Who knew syntax could be so much fun? William did and so much more. A gifted teacher, William was brilliant, witty, full of life, kind, and generous. There is no one like him in our community. He truly was one of a kind. His passing is an immeasurable loss. William’s friendships were vast and varied and he made each of his friends feel beloved. His passing has been felt the world over. Grief and gratitude have permeated the literacy community. How fitting then that in our grief we express our gratitude with a scholarship to the conference that he so loved. Scholarship awardees who attend in his name will honor William’s legacy and his gifts to us will live on.”