Summer Camps Help Students and Educators
July 02, 2015
For Concho Valley schoolteachers, summer is a chance to be students again as they find both professional development and inspiration at ASU through a variety of grant-funded programs.
Shanna Saverance, an English teacher at Wall High School, has a particular affinity for ASU’s Pearl of the Concho Writing Project. Started in 2004 as one of 10 National Writing Project sites in Texas, the program features a Teachers’ Writing Camp for teachers in all grades interested in expanding their understanding of the teaching of writing.
“I just needed a boost,” Saverance said. “I was kind of in a mid-career rut and this recharged my teaching.”
“The Pearl of the Concho philosophy is that, as a teacher, you do everything you ask your students to do,” she added. “You write with your students, you read with your students, you share what you write with your students. The mini-lessons also give you material to take back to the classroom.”
Saverance completed the camp in 2007 and has remained involved ever since, presenting workshops on behalf of the program at the Region XV Education Service Center in San Angelo and attending national conferences as part of the Pearl of the Concho Leadership Team.
“In the end, I was asked to be a Writing Camp leader,” Saverance said. “This is my seventh year as the leader of the Young and Teen Writing Camps.”
In addition to professional development for teachers, the Pearl of the Concho Writing Project, which is directed by Dr. Marva Solomon of the teacher education faculty, offers an annual summer Youth Writing Camp for students entering grades 3–5 and a Teen Writing Camp for students entering grades 6–8.
“During the school year, I have high school juniors and seniors, which I love,” Saverance said. “In the summer, I get to work with a younger group. These also are all kids who love to write, and that is not something I get that often in my classroom.”
“Here, we can do fun writing, creative writing,” she continued. “Normally, we are teaching ‘schoolified’ writing, like research papers, writing for the SAT and academic writing. Here, it is straight up fun work.”
Hannah Dodds, a former student of Saverance’s at Wall High, is working as a graduate assistant for the Writing Project this summer. A graduate of ASU’s teacher education program, she is working on her master’s degree in educational administration and looking forward to starting as a second-grade teacher at San Angelo’s Glenmore Elementary School in August.
“During the school year, I have high school juniors and seniors, which I love. In the summer, I get to work with a younger group. These also are all kids who love to write, and that is not something I get that often in my classroom.”
“The No. 1 thing I’m getting out of this summer camp is the experience with the kids,” Dodds said. “I’m just starting teaching, and it’s really interesting to see how the camp leaders interact with the students, especially the older kids. I’m working with the teen writers and I hadn’t had that experience.”
Science and math are also topics of ASU summer career development programs for K–12 teachers. This summer’s offerings include “Earth Science: It’s Elementary,” a two-week program for fifth-grade teachers under the direction of Dr. Christine Purkiss, a teacher education faculty member. A separate two-week workshop on algebraic topics led by Dr. Donna Gee of the teacher education faculty targets middle school math teachers. Both projects are funded by Teacher Quality Grants from the U.S. Department of Education.
Another group of middle school and high school science teachers got the full summer camp experience this year by attending the annual PIER Geosciences Summer Institute conducted by ASU geosciences faculty at the Texas Tech Field Center in Junction. Each year, teachers explore area geology and learn new ways to make it more interesting for their students.
Any area schoolteachers interested in signing up for next summer’s programs at ASU should contact either the Department of Teacher Education or the Department of Physics and Geosciences.