Summers can be a break for teachers of direct instruction to students, but they remain busy all year round preparing the best possible educational experience for our students.
“This is Arkansas”, a regional history seminar for teachers, was held at the college auditorium in Paris on June 10. The annual seminar attracts educators from across the state and gives them the opportunity to experience southern culture, history and music. .
This year’s seminar had an exceptional class of educators and presenters, each of whom presented a one-hour session on various aspects of Arkansas. The keynote address, “An Introduction to This Sunshine Land,” was presented by Dr. Tom Wing, professor at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith and curator of the Drennan House Museum. The Kentucky Thoroughbreds, a local bluegrass group, entertained the group with songs representing the culture and history of our region. Several songs from the movie “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” as well as traditional favorites.
Dr Glenda Ezell presented a show on the Orphan Train and its journey through the region. Strange to discover, many of the teachers present had family members or were themselves descendants of those who arrived on the train during its passage through the region.
Always a crowd favorite, Waldron’s Patrick Millard presented a repertoire of Southern music accompanied by classic tales about growing up in the Ouachita Mountains.
Other speakers included Dr. Bob Crossman who discussed the Butterfield scene and his journeys through the river valley, and Dr. Curtis Varnell who shared the topic “Everyone Has a Story”.
Normally, the seminar takes place at the King Opera House in historic downtown Van Buren, but this year, due to a recent tornado, the seminar was moved to Paris. Approximately 100 teachers and guests were able to attend the seminar this year in 22 counties in Arkansas.
Guy Fenter leads workshops throughout the summer to provide the professional development sessions required by the Department of Education. Most teachers in the region must complete more than 60 hours of instruction per year to maintain their license. As you drive past the County Line Co-op, parking lots can be seen full of cars as teachers in the area receive training in subjects ranging from literacy and math to migrant education.
In addition to RISE and other state-mandated programs, the co-op has organized field trips to the Hot Springs Crystal Mines, the Bluff Dwellers Cave in Sulfur Springs, and the Ozarks Fossil Collection. In July, the co-op will host a STEM conference in Waldron, a regional teacher’s conference in Alma, and several teacher workshops at the Janet Huckabee River Valley Nature Center in Fort Smith.