The academic breadth and depth of knowledge of CCES faculty members across a range of disciplines is remarkable. Our teachers have greatly diverse educational backgrounds, from previous experience in the classroom to impressive academic research efforts— which is why they are asked time and time again to be professional speakers, mentoring colleagues/peers in their fields and sharing their expertise.
I spoke with several of our faculty members about their recent speaking engagements and was again reminded of the passion they have for their areas of study and how fortunate we are to have them at CCES.
Mrs. Paulette Unger, Upper School Biology Teacher
Name of conference or engagement? APSI Biology (AP Summer Institute) and AP One-Day Workshop in Biology: JL Mann through Clemson University’s Summer Institute Program, Fayetteville State University Summer Institute, Fayetteville, NC, and Pompano Beach High School, Florida
Description of Session? I work with teachers to review the AP curriculum framework, design syllabi, equity and access to meet the needs of diverse student populations, share best practices and teaching strategies, conduct inquiry labs, design formative, and summative assessments, and exam preparation strategies.
What did audiences gain from your presentation? Teachers leave the workshop with teaching strategies and materials that they can implement next day into their classrooms. They also gain confidence in being equipped to meet the demands of such a rigorous course and working with diverse student needs.
What do you gain personally from being a speaker? It gives me the opportunity to expand my professional learning network and I can bring back new ideas to my classroom as well. Also, as a consultant, I am one of the first to learn of updates to the curriculum and get training that better equips me for teaching my own students.
What makes connections in your subject area so important? As educators, we are also striving to teach students valuable skills that go beyond content. These are skills that are transferable into any field of study that students pursue beyond our classroom. By presenting at these workshops, I have the opportunity to share ideas and brainstorm best practices with other educators to make our classrooms more productive and conducive to this mission of helping students become agents of their own lifelong learning.
Mr. Eric Bousman, Upper School Latin Teacher
Name of conference or engagement? Using Literary Circles to Teach Works in Translation: The American Classical League Summer Institute at the University of Missoula, Missoula, MT
Description of Session? My session was intended to help teachers of classical languages (ancient Greek and Latin) use literary circles (similar to a book club) to better include works in translation in their language courses.
What did audiences gain from your presentation? They left with new strategies to employ in the classroom, and some experience with Emily Wilson's new translation of The Odyssey.
What do you gain personally from being a speaker? I gained a better network of professionals to teach and learn from, as well as experience presenting in front of a crowd (this presentation was the first one I've ever made at a conference!).
What makes connections in your subject area so important? We need to maintain a connection with our ancient past to understand the cultural, political, and literary structures that define our modern existence. The richness of poetry in its original context is a treasure that must be cherished by everyone in our society.
Robin Garner, Director of the Arts & Upper School Music Teacher
Name of conference or engagement? Mysticism and Mindfulness: Hildegard von Bingen: Valle Crucis Conference Center, Valle Crucis, North Carolina
Description of Session? A one-day workshop on mindfulness and meditation based on the music and poetry of 12th century mystic Hildegard von Bingen. The day offered a better understanding of this important medieval female figure and how mindfulness practice can impact a healthy lifestyle. Participants explored meditation through journaling and walking the labyrinth. Additionally, I performed seven pieces of Hildegard's repertoire for the conference.
What did audiences gain from your presentation? Participants submitted feedback from the day, and the overwhelming response was positive. They went away eager to learn more about Hildegard, to listen to her music, to consider her poetry as a means of meditation and they also were interested in her writings on health, nutrition and overall wellness.
What do you gain personally from being a speaker? I was excited to present this information! The research and performance that I offered were from my Masters thesis from the University of Limerick. As a teacher, I feel it is vital to stretch myself and put myself in the role of student again— making presentations and giving performances are areas I coach my students in, so it is so valuable to remember what it feels like to be in that position again. Additionally, since I presented at an Episcopal conference center, I felt it had particular importance for our school. I have had offers from a few attendees to come to their cities and present this information.
What makes connections in your subject area so important? Because I teach a performing art, it is imperative that I participate in the performance aspect. So, presenting this research was a valuable experience. I also sing in a professional choir in the Asheville area, and we rehearse every month and give performances. Staying active in the performing/research/presenting areas of music makes my teaching better, and my students know I understand how they feel because I am also continuing to learn.
John Byrnes, Upper School Media Specialist has a pool of speeches in a growing repertoire. At the Association of Independent School Librarians Conference in New Orleans, LA, he presented on Mentoring Long-Term Projects without Staff Burnout, as well as Information Literacy beyond Fake News: Teaching Info Lit to Triggered Students, as a part of the iTeach 4: Transitions and the Roles Libraries Play. Last Spring, he presented two sessions at the South Carolina Association of School Librarians Conference. The first session was a revision of the information literacy technique with some recommendations for what methods one could focus on in instruction to improve student thinking about good and bad information in independent research, titled "Every Source as a Spectrum: Moving Beyond Fake News in Information Literacy". He also presented a session on using board games as a program for helping students in the library who are not actively studying to move away from free time screen time called: "Board Games in the Library: Programming to Eliminate Screen Fatigue".
But wait, Mr. Byrnes is far from done! This spring he’s presenting at the Association of Independent Schools conference in Boston, MA, a session titled "Making Co-Teaching Stick - Assessing Library Instruction without Reading Every Draft" which will be a survey of formative assessment techniques that Librarians can use to determine the impact on student writing and information behaviors following co-instruction, or traditional research instruction methods (things like assigned annotated bibliographies without co-instruction).
What do you gain personally from being a speaker? I present as frequently as I'm able to because it gives me a chance to share what I'm doing in my instruction with my peers who focus on Information Literacy. As a Librarian, much of my content is 'covered' by other disciplines, but the teachers I co-teach with or gather resources are tracking these skills in the context of their class.
What makes connections in your subject area so important? When I present with other Librarians, I get a chance to talk through thinking about those skills a scope and sequence that stretches from Primer through the Senior year and beyond. It also allows me to talk to Librarians who may have more of a focus on reading programming or making the technology that runs the databases and catalog that our students use about how to improve the experience of research and reading for students who grow up in the age of Google. Finally, and personally, it gives me a sense of how up-to-date I am in my field.
Ted Lutkus, Assistant Headmaster for Academic Affairs and Valerie Riddle, Lower School Assistant Director and Chaplain, spoke this fall about “Making Episcopal Identity Central in a Strategic Plan: One School’s Experience” at The National Association of Episcopal Schools, Atlanta, GA. “We shared our experience with how examining and enriching our Episcopal Identity was a key component to Christ Church Episcopal School’s Strategic Plan,” Ted explained. We explained the formation of this goal, action steps for the goal, the ongoing implementation, lessons learned during this process as well as results.
Joy Hughes, Lower School Music Teacher, has presented several workshops for SC Music teachers in previous years. Once a year she typically hosts a workshop at CCES, bringing in guest teachers from around the country, for the local music teachers group called the "South Carolina Foothills Chapter of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association." “It is a great gift to be able to share our resources at CCES with the area music teachers,” Joy says. “I have been able to share in the costs by having some of those guest teachers teach my students during the week before the Saturday workshop. Over the years, I have been president of the local chapter twice, so it is both a professional development and community service effort for me.”
Again, we are so fortunate to have such talented and dedicated teachers supporting our children at CCES.