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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Teacher workshops earn an A+

When Mark Loringer saw the notice about the teacher workshops led by University professors and hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, he was immediately intrigued.

“As a general science teacher, I’m frequently called upon to teach everything from biology to physics,” said Loringer, who teaches at Southern Alamance High School in Burlington. “This workshop gave me the opportunity to be a better teacher.”

Visiting professor Carolyn Morse demonstrates the chemical reaction that creates a flame. “This is physics,” she said, drawing a match across the striker. “And this is chemistry,” she said, as the match yielded a flame. She gave a lively lecture on pioneer chemist Michael Faraday before the demonstration.

Along with nearly 40 teachers from across the state, Loringer attended the Feb. 21 workshop featuring biology and chemistry faculty. This session was the second in a series kicked off with a workshop featuring English language and literature faculty the day before.

The workshops are designed for North Carolina high school teachers who teach advanced courses for juniors and seniors. All four workshops in the series are free and offer participants continuing education unit (CEU) credit. All sessions are led by a faculty member or an admissions director.

“We are honored by the admission applications that we receive every year, and we know that high school teachers across the state invest countless hours in helping their students prepare for this important step,” said Stephen Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions. “Hosting these workshops gives the University the opportunity to return the favor by doing a little something to help our colleagues in the work that they do.”

Thomas Taylor, a biology teacher from Oakwood High School in Greenville, attended the “Biology 101 and the Convergence of Curriculum Requirements” session led by biology faculty members Kelly Hogan and Jean DeSaix.

“Not only did I learn about the expectations my students will face upon entering college,” said Taylor, “I also appreciated the chance to connect with my fellow science teachers. As a second-year teacher, this experience has been invaluable.”

Ingrid Blank from Broughton High School in Raleigh also attended that session and left with a new set of tools to help her students develop higher-level thinking skills. “Instead of asking my students to describe the results of an experiment, from now on I will first ask them to try and predict those results,” she said.

At the noontime break, participants chatted with current Carolina students, who happily shared their own perspectives on the differences between high school and college.

After lunch, the teachers had their choice of more sessions led by biology or chemistry faculty as well as one on writing effective recommendation letters, conducted by Patty Baum, assistant director of admissions.

Participating faculty members found the experience equally rewarding.

DeSaix said that working with high school teachers really helped her understand her students and the diversity of educational settings from which they come. “These teachers trust us to continue the work they have begun, and that is a responsibility which I try to keep in mind every day,“ she said.

Hogan added, “The workshops gave us an opportunity to reflect on the common struggles we face at both levels and to be reminded of the constraints that standardized testing puts on enthusiastic and creative high school teachers.”

At the conclusion of the event, Loringer achieved his goal. “As a result of these workshops,” he said, “I know that tomorrow I’ll return to school a better teacher.”

Registration is still open for the remaining sessions featuring faculty from Spanish and French languages (March 26) and U.S. and world history (March 30). For more information, see go.unc.edu/c3QYz.