July 15, 2013
13-211

Jessica Pope
Communications Specialist

Teachers go Back to School to Learn the Latest in AP Curriculum

VALDOSTA — Teachers from both inside and outside the South Georgia region will head back to school this week to learn the very latest in the Advanced Placement Biology curriculum.

The teachers-turned-students, both experienced ones and new ones, will learn what is new in the AP curriculum, as well as receive an overview of the course, including its objectives and exam content. Class sizes are limited to 20 to maximize facilitator and participant interaction.

Last week, VSU welcomed teachers in the areas of AP U.S. History and AP English Language and Composition.  

Hosted by Continuing Education, in conjunction with the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services, Valdosta State University provides these weeklong Advanced Placement Summer Institutes annually for AP teachers committed to the pursuit of enhanced teaching and learning. This is the sixth year of the program, which kicked off during the summer of 2008.

Courses offered vary each summer. Dr. David M. Monetti, a professor in the College of Education and Human Services’ Department of Psychology and Counseling, said course selections are made based on the needs of the region’s high schools.

“We are really interested in tailoring our course offerings to their unique needs,” he said, “and being easily accessible so that their teachers do not have to travel as far from home to receive professional development.”

Teachers studying at the AP Summer Institutes come from all over the region. Some even come from other states. Jody Skipper came from Headland, Ala., where she has taught AP U.S. History for the past three years at Headland High School. She said her school’s administration encouraged her to attend the Advanced Placement Summer Institutes and even covered the cost of her attendance, including lodging and travel.

Skipper spent the week of July 8-12 at VSU learning positive and effective teaching strategies and practical classroom use of the AP materials from both her classmates and her course facilitator, Tom Kilbourn, who has been teaching high school history and government classes since he retired from the U.S. Air Force. She said that she is certain the experience will make her an even better teacher.

“I learned a lot,” she said. “AP U.S. History is changing. (Tom Kilbourn) is absolutely phenomenal. He has given us lots of information to take back to our students.”

“School systems send us excellent educators who really want to provide the best instruction and experience possible for their students,” Monetti said. “I am really taken with their determination. They are not generally employed or paid in the summer by school districts, but they come to this training and work hard in order to improve their teaching practice.”

VSU’s AP Summer Institutes are the brainchild of Dr. Julia Reffel, professor emeritus in the College of Education and Human Services’ Department of Early Childhood and Reading Education, and the late Dr. Phil Gunter, who served in many capacities, including provost and vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the College of Education and Human Services.

“They presented the idea about becoming officially certified by the College Board to offer this prestigious training,” Monetti said. “It was pretty exciting because of the potential benefit to our region’s teachers, students, and families. I left their office and made an appointment to see Dr. Julie Halter, director of Continuing Education, because I knew she had the expertise and the experience in offering excellent professional development programs.”

Dr. Jack Rainer, Dr. Jim Reffel, and Monetti from the Department of Psychology and Counseling; Halter; Dr. Brian Gerber, interim dean of the College of Education and Human Services; and Dr. Karla Hull, who most recently served the university as interim vice president for Academic Affairs, collaborate to ensure the continued success of the AP Summer Institutes.

Taking a moment to prognosticate about what the future may bring to the summer institutes, Monetti said, “We hope for increased diversity and broader access to rigorous AP-level curriculum. We also hope that the future has us continuing to refine and improve our teaching and assessment practices because those considerations are central to the value and meaningfulness of education.”

Visit www.valdosta.edu/conted/APSI or contact Dr. David M. Monetti at (229) 333-5930 or dmmonett@valdosta.edu or Dr. Julie Halter at (229) 249-2641 or jahalter@valdosta.edu to learn more about Valdosta State University’s AP Summer Institutes.

Visit http://about.collegeboard.org to learn more about the College Board and its Advanced Placement program.