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Local teachers to attend Chancellor's Academy at U. of I. starting July 31


Craig Chamberlain, Education Editor

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Eighty-seven local teachers are expected to take part in the fourth annual Chancellor’s Academy, which starts Thursday (July 31) and continues on weekdays through Aug. 8.

The academy, started in 2005, is a concentrated professional development program resulting from a partnership among the Champaign and Urbana public schools and the University of Illinois, with the College of Education acting as the host.

Forty-seven elementary teachers and 40 secondary teachers are registered to attend this year’s program, which will include a dinner on Aug. 7 at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center, also to be attended by school administrators and district officials. Donna Ford, the Betts Chair of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University, will be the featured speaker.

The first three summer academies emphasized literacy practices, and this year’s academy will expand on that with an emphasis on differentiated instruction across grade levels and content areas, according to Julia Johnson, the director of the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities. The center is responsible for coordinating the academy in conjunction with a planning committee composed of university and school personnel.

Differentiated instruction emphasizes student-centered teaching practices designed to anticipate and respond to widely diverse students needs, Johnson said.

The seven days of the academy, along with other aspects of the program that run throughout the year, are directed largely by the partner schools, Johnson said. Many of the themes and daily topics, as well as some of the instructors, were suggested by local educators, she said. Activities planned for the coming school year are based on the needs of the schools and individual teachers.

Speakers and facilitators for the academy will include experts and educators from the U. of I., the regional education office and the school districts, along with a key nationally recognized expert by way of video conferencing, Johnson said. The academy also will include time for teachers to collaborate and plan in teams organized by school and grade level or content area.

Funding for the program comes from the Illinois campus, which pays for faculty time, books and supplies, and a $700 stipend for each participating teacher.

One addition to the program this year is the recent hiring of five more local teachers as teacher collaborators, bringing to seven the number of teachers filling that role. The new collaborators are Jacqueline Bunn, Rebecca Chairs, Susan Gregson, Catherine Hunter and Brad Thompson; they join Phillip Wilder and Haeny Yoon, who were hired last year.

“All seven of these professional educators will be very instrumental in carrying forward academic-year activities related to literacy and mathematics instruction, working collaboratively with local Champaign and Urbana school districts” Johnson said.

Their work, she said, may include providing classroom-level professional development, leading workshops, meeting with study groups, co-planning with individual teachers, and lining up resources.