OUR SCHOOLS / Workshops at Stockton target teachers willing to learn

Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ) - June 9, 2008

Author: DIANE D'AMICO

Paul Lyons remembers going to a conference after the end of the Cold War and sitting with a Russian scholar who talked about Russian political views of Vietnam and Cuba.

"The ability to get contributions now from Russian and Chinese scholars has transformed how we look at the Vietnam War," said Lyons, a professor at Richard Stockton College.

While Lyons has been able to share new experiences with students at the college, teachers already working are now focused more on what they're teaching than what they might still want to learn. But that is about to change.

This fall, Stockton will offer the first in its new Teachers as Scholars program, offering a series of daylong workshops on 11 academic topics. Open to working teachers, the development of the program is being funded through a grant from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

"This is a way for teachers to recharge their engines and look at news ways to teach," Lyons said. "From 9 a.m to 3 p.m. they will think only about that one thing."

The program is run by the college's Graduate School of Edu-cation, and is open to all working teachers. It is also an opportunity for Stockton faculty to reach out to the community and share their expertise. The program came together quickly, Lyons said, because there were so many faculty members eager to participate.

"My problem wasn't finding people to do it, it was choosing from among all the people interested," he said.

The first group of seminars, which will begin in October, is an eclectic mix. Lyons will do a three-session program on the Vietnam War. Professor Deborah Gussman will offer a seminar on Native American Literature. Pamela Hendrick will offer three sessions on acting and performance in theory and practice. Paleontologist Margaret Lewis will present three sessions the the evolutionary history of amniotes. Other topics include poetry, pragmatism, mindfulness, social justice, birds and the Indian epic Baghavad Gita.

Harvey Kesselman, new Dean of Education at the college, said his goal is to get more professors from the arts and sciences to teach in the education programs so that teachers can expand their content knowledge as well as their teaching skills.

"The Wilson Foundation wants teachers to be intellectually stimulated," said Kesselman, who encouraged Lyons to begin the program this year. "We want to give teachers more ways to reach students."

The project is also affiliated with the Southern Regional Institute/Educational Technology Training Center at Stockton, which provides training programs for working teachers. Participating school districts can use their SRI/ETTC hours to cover the cost of the program, or pay per course. The brochure is online at: www.ettc.net