Virginia Teachers Sharpen Skills at JMU Academy

From: Public Affairs

June 18, 2008

HARRISONBURG—More than 400 Virginia teachers will convene at James Madison University June 23-27 to hone their pedagogical skills, delve into curriculum content and equip themselves for leadership roles in the world of education.

Joining the teachers at the ninth annual Content Teaching Academy, which focuses on "Educating with an eye to the future," are more than 20 school administrators, who will participate in sessions Monday and Tuesday on instructional leadership and a schoolwide discipline plan.

The professional development academy is sponsored by JMU's College of Education and the Virginia Department of Education. One-third of the academy's leaders are JMU faculty, who are joined by practicing teachers from throughout Virginia.

"The academy is primarily here to serve the teachers of Virginia," said Academy Director Laurie O. Cavey, an associate professor of mathematics education at JMU. "One major goal of the academy is to encourage teachers to be vested in what they are doing as professionals. We want them to see the importance of their work and the importance of continuing their own education.”

"Related to that is seeing themselves as someone who can make a difference, not only in what's happening in their classrooms and for their students, but for the world of education in general and to make an educational system that is really worthwhile."

Keynote speaker Gary Marx, who will address academy participants Monday, will discuss the importance of teachers taking the leadership reins. Marx, the president of the Center for Public Outreach in Vienna, is the writer of "Future-Focused Leadership: Preparing Schools, Students, and Communities for Tomorrow's Realities." He served for nearly 20 years as a senior executive for the American Association of School Administrators.

Rachel McAnallen, founder of the Institute for Math Mania, will speak Friday. Also known as "Ms. Math," McAnallen has 40 years of teaching experience. She has traveled throughout the United States and to South Africa to work with elementary and secondary students and to present her workshops on problem-solving in mathematics.

"Every academy will engage teachers in thinking about content from a particular perspective," Cavey said. Teachers chose enrollment in academy sections, including grade appropriate special education, English, mathematics, science, creative movement, educational technology, gifted education, citizenship education, reading, and physics and physical science.

"It's not content in isolation; it's not strategies or pedagogy in isolation," Cavey said of the academy sessions. "The goal is to get teachers thinking about both in a way that also helps them think about the larger picture, and that's where the leadership comes in."


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