Teacher Appreciation Week

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2005

On Tuesday, about 1,000 local teachers stepped down from the front of the class and settled into the desks that their students usually inhabit. Because for this day, they were learners again.

As part of Teacher Appreciation Week, King’s Fork High hosted the first Raising Achievements and Closing the Gap Symposium.

&uot;We wanted teachers to have fresh eyes and new ideas,&uot; said Charlene Christian-Andrews, the school system’s staff development coordinator. &uot;We’ve heard wonderful remarks from teachers; they’re enjoying the sessions.&uot;

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Throughout the day, teachers attended several presentations to improve their skills. Some learned about spreading unity throughout the room, others were taught about helping students become more confident about asking questions. A class on promoting racial pride and self-confidence in a diverse environment was held, as was one on motivation.

Driver Elementary principal Nancy Harrell helped give a presentation entitled, &uot;Boys in Crisis.&uot;

Not only do male students create 85 percent of the discipline problems in school, they also have a larger Special Education population and have more problems in reading and writing.

&uot;Males sometimes feel that they have to destroy their enemy, look good, and make a lot of money,&uot; Harrell said. &uot;That’s what society tells them. A lot of parents still hold the ‘boys don’t cry’ theory. We help them to develop their emotional language instead of acting out. We help them see that it’s alright to show emotion, and that it’s good to see their dads showing emotion.&uot;

Oakland music teacher Rena Long learned a great deal.

&uot;That was a wonderful, wonderful program,&uot; she said of &uot;Boys.&uot; &uot;It gave us a lot of great information we can use. It helped us develop our own adult language skills that we need to be the children’s role models so they know how to respond. We have to be consistent, and fair and open to diversity.&uot;

In her program, &uot;Strategies That Make All the Difference (Discipline, Interest and Active Learning),&uot; compensatory programs coordinator Bettie Swain helped her students understand behavior and create active learning sessions.

&uot;There is a significant gap in the performance level of third and fifth graders in English and math for African-Americans, the economically-disadvantaged and students with disabilities,&uot; Swian said. &uot;This helps teachers address interest, readiness and learning, and provides teachers with more paths to learning.&uot;

In the seminar, &uot;Everybody Goes to Wal-Mart, Why Not Regular Class?&uot; Oakland media specialist Pam Courtney learned about inclusive instruction.

&uot;We understand that children come from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds,&uot; she said. &uot;We learned how to teach everyone. This taught us to look at every student and make accommodations for them.&uot;

Those are lessons that keynote speaker Mychal Wynn has been helping teachers learn in the 15 books he’s written about educational improvement.

&uot;I have kids, and I recognize the importance of community involvement in public education,&uot; said Wynn, the chief financial officer of Rising Sun Publications. &uot;Everyone has a role to play. The issue is bigger than the kids, and if the community is healthier, than the kids are learning and being nurtured and the teachers are having fun.

&uot;The promise of public education lies in the relationships we are able to construct and the level of collaboration we are able to achieve.&uot;