Teachers and Writers Meet at NCCAT
CULLOWHEE: (March 15, 2012)—For the sixth year, North Carolina public school teachers will meet and work with acclaimed writers during a professional development seminar at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. Each spring, NCCAT’s “The Power of Words” seminar is scheduled to coincide with Western Carolina University’s Spring Literary Festival. Through a partnership between NCCAT and WCU’s English Department, seminar participants attend festival sessions at WCU and attend special sessions that address the teaching of writing on NCCAT’s Cullowhee campus.
“This seminar allows us to introduce teachers to professional writers and fields of literature with which the teachers may have been previously unfamiliar,” said Dr. Donna Glee Williams, the NCCAT fellow who is coordinating the 2012 seminar.
Mary Adams, associate professor of English at WCU who had directed past festivals and is scheduled as a presenting poet this year, said, “The authors always write to comment about the wonderful audiences we bring to the festival and NCCAT’s teachers are a big part of that.”
The give and take between writers and teachers during this seminar consistently results in teachers discovering new ways to motivate students and incorporate reading and writing across the curriculum. A 2011 seminar participant, Anthony Swaringen of Alexander Graham Middle School in Charlotte, said, “As an English teacher, I rarely get to talk with authors about their craft. Having the opportunity to hear firsthand about their intentions and reasons for their decisions has helped me lead my students to deeper analytical conversations about literature and writing. I returned to my classroom with a renewed passion for my subject area.”
The 2011 festival featured writers Elizabeth Kostova, best known for “The Historian;” Bret Lott, author of Oprah Book Club selection “Jewel;“ Ginger Murchison, editor of the acclaimed “Cortland Review” and founder of Georgia Tech’s poetry program; and many others.
“The authors we met offered many ways we could inspire our students’ creativity in writing,” said Cathe Bradshaw of Evergreen Community Charter School in Buncombe County. “Bret Lott’s ideas on using lists and prompts with his college students gave me ideas for using these techniques with my first graders.”
Terri Fleck, who teaches English at Weddington Middle School in Union County, added, “When Ginger Murchison showed us how to teach grammatical structure through poetry, I knew I could go back to the classroom and help students connect the beauty and form of poetry with the function. I can help them integrate grammar and poetry and make it meaningful for them.”
Among the celebrated writers schedule to present at the 2012 festival are Ron Rash, well-known for his novel “Serena;” performance poet Glenis Redmond, whose latest collection is “Under the Sun;” and author of the acclaimed “Winter’s Bone,” Daniel Woodrell.
Increasing teacher effectiveness is fundamental to improving public education. NCCAT educates teachers and provides them with new knowledge, skills, teaching methods, best practices and information to take back to their classrooms. NCCAT conducts interdisciplinary, topic-specific seminars for pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers in the environmental and biological sciences, technology, mathematics, communication, leadership, and the arts and humanities. NCCAT’s instructional programming is designed to give teachers the support and resources they need to be highly effective and enhance student achievement. For more information about NCCAT’s instructional programs, visit www.nccat.org or call 828-293-5202.
Get a complete schedule for WCU’s Spring Literary Festival and list of presenting writers at http://litfestival.org.