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College of Coastal Georgia to Host Esteemed Literacy Expert for Conference
Posted 02/19/2015 12:00AM

The weekend was in clear view for Brittany Carrigan and Cheryl Pettry on Friday afternoon, but the two education students at College of Coastal Georgia weren’t looking forward to their weekend. It was Monday morning, being back in their student teaching classrooms, that had them excited.

The students were two of about 100 individuals to attend the college’s Literacy Forum Friday, where guest speaker Patricia Edwards, a professor from Michigan State University and former president of the International Reading Association, led a day-long workshop centered on the importance of reading, as well as parental involvement, to a child’s overall well-being.

“We’re getting so many great ideas and tips,” Carrigan said of the conference. “I can’t wait to try some of these new ideas out on our students.”

Pettry agreed, noting she, too, was eager to try some of the new tactics out on parents, especially those who are not as active in their child’s education as they should be.

“We all understand that parents are busy and some work two or three jobs to make ends meet. But a child’s success in school is dependent on this circle of a teacher, the parent and the student,” Pettry said. “When one element is missing, the circle is broken.

”What we’re learning here will be vital to helping us create that complete circle to create a solid foundation of learning for these children.”

The conference, organized by Rob Reigner, associate professor of reading/language arts education and teacher preparation at College of Coastal Georgia, was assembled to help students connect with experts in the academic field and provide advanced tips for successful teaching, as well as expose them to resources that will help create a blossoming classroom.

During the one-day conference, Edwards was joined by three fellow education professionals for a panel discussion. On stage with Edwards for the panel portion of the event was Anita Beasley, president-elect of the Georgia Reading Association and a learning support specialist for Jackson Elementary School in Butts County; Sheree Bryant, executive director of the Georgia Reading Association and a student teacher supervisors at Mercer and Gordon State universities; and Beth Pendergraft, president of the Georgia Reading Association and associate professor at Georgia Regents University.

The panelists explained to the audience, made up of students, education professionals, parents and the general public, the significance of connecting the community and parents with the classroom.

“Home, the community and the school must all be on the same page,” Edwards said. “That means parents, civic groups, area businesses, churches and community leaders are all encouraging parents to connect with the school. The more involved a community is, the more involved a parent will be.

“Parental involvement is key to successful education. It all begins at home.”

It is essential, said panel member Beasley, for teachers to look beyond the walls of their rooms and schools and really examine the community in which their center of learning is placed.

“You have to step outside the classroom,” Beasley said. “It is easy to forget there is a world out there. You have to step outside the classroom and look at a student’s home, their home life and the world in which they live. Only then can you understand how they will deal with a classroom and with learning.”

The Brunswick News
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