More than 300 Arkansas educators, representing 87 schools throughout the state, will convene over the course of the next two weeks at the Lake Point Conference Center for the first College of Arts and Humanities K-12 Summer Institute.
The summer institute is part of the College’s K-12 Initiative, an outreach program that connects interested public school educators with the resources necessary to provide intensive content coverage.
Dr. M. Diane Gleason, assistant professor of history at Arkansas Tech and K-12 Initiative liaison, said educators taking part in the institute have the opportunity to receive professional development on a variety of topics.
“Each day a different educational topic is discussed, and teachers may attend all of the sessions or just those that are of interest. During the morning sessions, we will work with the teachers to enhance their knowledge on specific topic areas,” said Gleason. “Each afternoon, we will assist educators on ways to apply the material to the Common Core and how to integrate critical thinking opportunities.”
Gleason says the K-12 Summer Institute provides a practical way to emphasize student learning.
“By offering this institute, Arkansas Tech is able to take a proactive approach to enhance student learning in the public schools,” said Gleason. “The opportunity to partner with our K-12 colleagues is a winning combination for Arkansas Tech, the public school educators and the students who will benefit from enhanced content-driven learning.”
This will be the first year for the summer institute at Arkansas Tech. Dr. H. Micheal Tarver, dean of the Arkansas Tech College of Arts and Humanities and K-12 Initiative creator, said he is “extremely pleased” with the response from educators statewide.
“I believe the overwhelming response we’ve seen indicates there is a need for this type of professional development,” said Tarver. “Our goal is to be a viable resource to help K-12 educators enhance their classroom instruction by providing access to meaningful content.”
In addition to the summer institute, the K-12 Initiative also includes an in-classroom content component to assist educators. During the academic year, public school educators are able to request DVDs on content areas for either personal enrichment or for classroom use. Upon request, Arkansas Tech assists the K-12 educator by offering recorded material on topics from Arkansas Tech professors.
Tarver said the DVD program has been quite successful in its first year, and he anticipates this aspect of the K-12 Initiative to increase in popularity.
“During the first year, we created 75 DVDs that are available at no cost for teachers in the public schools. I suspect this program will continue to see requests as more teachers become aware of its value,” said Tarver. “Our goal for the second year is to also assist by offering materials focused on application of the Common Core, as we believe this will be material of benefit.”
Tarver and Gleason said the summer institute and the DVD program reflect the mission of the K-12 Initiative, to offer a content-orientated outreach program to assist educators working within the public school.
“Our goal is build a bridge of educational partnership between higher education and the public schools by offering content enrichment opportunities,” they explained. “This increased collegial relationship will be a great benefit to both the public school and college faculties by fostering a greater understanding of each other's educational expertise, by further enriching the content depth of the course offerings and by fostering expanded opportunities for student learning."
Tarver also noted that this program supports Arkansas Tech’s strategic planning goal of expanding university partnerships.