U.Va. content-based center,
high school teachers benefit from grant
by Matt Kelly
David Gies (left), Gordon Braden (center) and Victor Luftig
discuss plans for U.Va.s Center for Liberal Arts,
a content-based training program for high school teachers,
which U.Va. faculty members created in 1984 and which Luftig
By Matt Kelly
Arthur Davis Foundations, with a track record of supporting teacher
education, has given the Center
for Liberal Arts $130,212 to support its mission.
in 1984 by University faculty under the leadership of English
professor Harold Kolb, the center draws upon its faculty to provide
professional enrichment to primary and secondary school teachers.
The centers teacher-scholars focus on content, while most
other training programs emphasize pedagogy. Associate English
professor Victor Luftig, the centers director, estimated
that the center has worked with about 10,000 teachers, the vast
majority from Virginia.
is one of the Universitys most important forms of outreach,
said David T. Gies, Commonwealth Professor of Spanish and a project
director for the center.
centers work has been recognized by other states, and educators
from Vermont, Georgia and North Carolina have visited to study
its program. The center has also sent teams to Modern Language
Association meetings to discuss realigning continuing education
are reflecting the interests of our customers, said Roland
Simon, associate professor of French. We can pull 60 French
teachers to spend a Saturday afternoon in the summer indoors.
Davis grant will provide money for continuing research fellowships
and new programs at the center, including Resources for
Teaching the Romantics and Dickens and The Story of
Spanish: Structure and History of the Language, which will
be offered this summer.
spring 2002, the center will offer one-day workshops, including
Spanish Classical Theater: Whos Afraid of Lope de
Vega? and Innovations in Teaching German.
center is also running a four-week program in the summer on Architectural
Inheritances: Studies in the Meaning and Legacy of Classical and
Medieval Architecture, with Lisa Reilly, the Horace Goldsmith/NEH
Distinguished Teaching Professor in Art and Architectural History
at the Architecture School.
said the center has received support from many sources, such as
the National Endowment for the Humanities, because the center
meets teachers needs.
rely on us, Gies said. They demand it.
being demanding, the teachers make good students.
dont sit there and write down everything, Gies said.
They question what you say, and you can have a real dialogue
with them. They have provoked us and enlightened us.
professors and high school teachers have established strong scholarly
bonds through these programs.
this we remind ourselves of the larger community of teachers,
said Jonathan F. Miller, chair of the classics department and
a project director. They are our colleagues and this is
a collaborative enterprise.
is most rewarding, said Gordon M. Braden, former chair of
the English department and another CLA project director. They
want to be there and are ready to go. They spend their lives talking
to children. This is why they are interested in the first place.
have all layers of experience and background, Simon said.
There is no grade. They just want to learn.
recharge their batteries with center programs, Gies said, spending
time with adults and having access to major research libraries
at a time when teachers landscapes have changed dramatically.
Over the past five years, Virginias Standards of Learning
initiative, in particular, has made teaching a different enterprise.
are under extraordinary pressure, and this is an opportunity for
them to step away from that pressure for a while, Gies said.
of the centers attraction is that it can offer access to
some of U.Va.s top scholars. And with the depth of the University
faculty, there are many ideas to develop and directions the center
may go in.
stroke of genius here was that he wanted the best faculty members,
the serious scholars, Gies said. They got others interested,
and these participants are what we draw on.
approach has worked well, with many faculty members making themselves
year, thanks to the Davis money, some of the teachers will be
able to continue their research after they return home. The center
will finance eight to 10 fellowships over three years at $2,000
each for teachers to pursue a selected topic.
research will be done on the Internet, which opens new doors for
content and access to source documents. But William G. Thomas,
director of the Center for Digital History, said teachers are
starved for guidance.
is not a lot of quality control [on the Internet], Thomas
said. They are under a lot of pressure to use the Internet
to teach in the classroom, but it is not focused. It is an opportunity
for the center to help them negotiate the world of information.
Davis Foundations are attracted to teacher education projects,
said Luftig, who hopes to use the grant as seed money to attract
other funds to the center.