In the news: Milligan College hosts annual ITQ workshop for area teachers
By Curtis Carden, Elizabethton Star
As the state looks to improve literacy and writing among grade-school youth, one local college is looking to help the initiative. Teachers from all across Northeast Tennessee have gathered during the week at Milligan College to participate in a “Boosting Fluency, Building Stamina: Innovative Strategies for English and Language Arts Teachers” workshop inside Derthick Hall. For the fifth year in a row, Milligan has received an Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) Grant, through the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, which allows the post-secondary school the ability to host these various workshops to assist teachers.
“Teachers are able to receive skills (during the workshop) and the emphasis is building reading and writing stamina for English and language arts teachers from grades 6-12, so it’s a wide span of ages,” said Dr. Angela Hilton-Prillhart, instructor of the class. “We have teachers from all over Northeast Tennessee ranging from Hamblen County in Morristown to Johnson County. We’re spending a lot of time this week not only learning reading strategies but also strategies that really support things like building reading stamina and working on writing. They have been a great group to work with this week.”
Dr. Hilton-Prillhart and Dr. Heather Hoover, associate professor of English and composition and director of writing, spent Wednesday working with teachers in a variety of projects. Teachers were able to participate in one project Wednesday which involved working on group lesson plans that worked on a piece of rigorous text for students and allowed the instructors the opportunity to come up with fun and unique opportunities to encourage students to stay engaged.
Shelley Martin, English teacher at Sullivan Central High School in Blountville, is no stranger to Milligan’s ITQ programs but said this week has been one of the best.
“I attended a similar ITQ workshop here three summers ago and it was a cross curricular workshop and it was a good experience,” Martin said. “This one is even better because I am an English/Language Arts teacher and this is an English/Language Arts workshop. I think it’s been almost revolutionary and refreshing for me because I’ve been teaching for 10 years. It has been 10 years since I’ve taken a college-level English course. While teachers should be considered experts in their content, we need refreshing and need the opportunity to dig back into that content. To be here, at Milligan, with Dr. Heather Hoover who is absolutely fascinating, it is hard not to walk away from here every day with just thousands of ideas for what I can do for the next school year.”
Martin added she enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers from surrounding school systems to come up with ways to help better the educational experience for up and coming students. Having these workshops in place, especially this week’s emphasis on literacy and writing, goes in conjunction with the State of Tennessee Department of Education’s focus of ramping up efforts in literacy and writing.
“I think it really helps teachers prepare for the new literacy standards that will be implemented with the students,” Dr. Hilton-Prillhart said. “I think it’s a great connection.” Martin later seconded the sentiment of the instructor. “The understanding is that you can’t just direct things at the younger grades,” Martin said. “You also can’t direct things to the higher grades, either. If students at the high school level missed that type of education at a younger age, I think this workshop is great for me to remember that it is not too late. We’re getting things this week to help those students that didn’t have that opportunity at a younger age. I think it is a wonderful thing the state putting an extra emphasis on literacy across all grade levels. I think the hope is over the years, we can continue to see the product of this rich instruction and I think that can benefit our students, us, and a school like Milligan College that will be receiving our students. That’s the most encouraging thing.”
MILLIGAN COLLEGE is a Christian liberal arts college in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The college offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs. To learn more about Milligan College, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.