NCCAT professional development focuses on reading | NCCAT

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NCCAT professional development focuses on reading

This NCCAT program guided participants to explore and document their experiences in motivating at-risk students to become effective readers.

CULLOWHEE – Teachers from across North Carolina joined the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, a recognized national leader in professional development, for “Achieving Against the Odds: Focus On Reading” during December 3-6.

Today’s diverse students enter school eager to become successful in classrooms originally designed for culturally homogeneous populations. Students are expected to learn from teachers who are often not from the same cultural, ethnic/race or social-class. Unsurprisingly, student performance in reading and other subjects is often low while student dropout and teacher burnout rates are high. This program guided participants to explore and document their experiences in motivating at-risk students to become effective readers.

In addition to sharing successful strategies for improving reading skills, participants examined barriers children encounter along the pathway and how these barriers affect them. Additionally, participants learned strategies for supporting higher order thinking skills while encouraging self-motivation, personal responsibility, and perseverance. In a time when students are glued to mobile devices, participants learned how Chess is used to develop higher order thinking skills. They also learned about Chess programs that are effective in turning "at-risk" children into Chess champions and outstanding students.

“This was so effective because we had time to digest the information, we had time for collaboration, and we learned from an amazing facilitator,” said Ashley Todd, of Lincolnton Middle School in the Lincoln County School District. “The facilitator not only showed us best practices but how to help all learning styles. In my 12 years of teaching, this was the best professional development I’ve ever had the privilege of attending. There was time to debrief, collaborate, and feel like I was valued as a teacher.”

The program was led by NCCAT faculty member Dr. Ernest Johnson with assistance from NCCAT Senior Program Specialist Sandra Bowling.


Increasing teacher effectiveness is fundamental to improving public education. NCCAT provides teachers with new knowledge, skills, teaching methods, best practices and information to take back to their classrooms. For more information about NCCAT’s professional development programs, visit or call 828-293-5202.

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