11:47 AM

Great Minds Gather for Professional Development Conference

A contingent of language arts teachers from Harmony Public Schools and Marshall Middle School of Fine Arts took part in a professional development conference on the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) campus. The conference's theme for 2016 was "Oral Histories." It was hosted by Leigh Van Horn, dean of the College of Public Service in conjunction with the Center for Public Service and Family Strengths.

More than 100 participants convened in the Commerce Street Building to discuss and develop curriculum around the conference's theme. The lesson plans included poetry writing and reading assignments that focused on family typologies and family symbolism. Other lessons focused on interviewing and elements of design to prepare teachers to engage their students in interviewing and photographing family members.

Throughout the two-day conference, presenters read and analyzed excerpts, engaged in interactive and collaborative activities, and exchanged feedback and ideas with one another.

"This conference is especially meaningful to me as I have long been a proponent of the idea that we empower educators and identify leadership succession through site based professional development," said Van Horn.

Conference participants received tote bags, art supplies and a selection of poetry books provided by the Center for Public Service and Family Strengths.

Many participants thanked Van Horn for the enriching experience and for UHD's hospitality. One teacher described the experience as "thought-provoking, self-reflective, phenomenal and intense."

The contributing teachers will take the new curriculum back to their respective schools, tailor the activities to their teaching objectives and execute the lesson plans throughout the upcoming school year.

Presenters included Beth Secor, lecturer in arts and humanities; Rebecca Hall and Sarah Connell, Harmony School of Science; Carlene Dorsey, Harmony School of Excellence; Kristy Abusaid, Harmony School of Advancement; and UHD urban education graduate Nicole Kawaja, Harmony School of Discovery. Special attendees included Social Studies educators from Marshall Middle Academy of Fine Arts Raymond Luna, Ezekiel Hurt, Michael Pelton, and Miguel Flores, also a UHD urban education graduate.