WVSU On Demand
July 1, 2009
Educators Gather At Samford For Summer Teaching Institute
About 300 educators heard from two nationally known authors and attended special interest sessions during the Samford Summer Institute for Teaching Excellence (SSITE) June 29-July 1. The conference for classroom teachers and administrators was sponsored by Samford's Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies.
SSITE participants, who represent public and private schools in Alabama and three other states, chose from 35 breakout sessions led by practitioners, Samford professors and other professionals.
Keynote speakers included Rafe Esquith, author of Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire, and Susan Zimmerman, co-author of 7 Keys to Comprehension and Mosaic of Thought.
Esquith is known for his two decades of teaching fifth-graders at a public school in a Los Angeles neighborhood plagued by guns, gangs and violence. His students' academic successes have earned him a national Teacher of the Year Award and a president's National Medal of the Arts. He and his students were featured in a PBS documentary, The Hobart Shakespeareans.
Zimmerman, co-founder and former executive director of the Denver-based Public Education and Business Coalition, initiated many ground-breaking programs to improve the quality of public schools. Her Reading Project has been implemented in more than 100 schools. She also is the author of several books based on her personal experiences raising her profoundly andicapped daughter.
Other SSITE speakers included Christian schooling specialist Dr. Jim Drexler, Dr. Jeanna Westmoreland, Dr. Deborah Childs-Bowen, Samford education dean Dr. Jean Ann Box, and 2003 national teacher of the year Dr. Betsy Rogers, who holds undergraduate and graduate education degrees from Samford. faculty members. Education faculty members Karen Birkenfeld and Amy Hoagland are 2009 SSITE co-directors.
New this year was the chance to participate in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), based on a particular strand of interest. Themes include such topics as recognizing and increasing student engagement, and thinking outside the box. PLC participants may have follow-up meetings throughout the school year to help them implement strategies and become leaders at their schools.
Established in 1987, SSITE is designed to offer teachers and administrators of public and private schools an educational growth experience with presenters who address current educational issues. It is hoped that participants will return to their classrooms with new materials, practical ideas and fresh inspiration.