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

July 15, 2012

Jessica R. Pope Communications Specialist

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


VALDOSTA -- This week, teachers from both inside and outside the South Georgia region will head back to school to learn the very latest in Advanced Placement English Language and Composition curriculum.

Hosted by Valdosta State University Continuing Education, in conjunction with the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education, 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, its objectives, and exam content.

Last week, VSU welcomed teachers in the areas of AP Biology and AP Calculus A/B. Class sizes are limited to 20 to maximize facilitator and participant interaction.

Each year, the university provides these week-long Advanced Placement Summer Institutes for teachers committed to the pursuit of enhanced teaching and learning. This is the fifth 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’s 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 offering the courses that they specifically need,” he said, “and being convenient so that their teachers do not have to travel as far from home to receive training.”

Teachers studying at the AP Summer Institutes come from all over the region. Some even come from other states. Chrystal Rosenthal traveled from Norfolk, Va., where she works at Lake Taylor High School, to prepare for her first year of teaching AP Biology.

“The experience has been great,” said Rosenthal, who has been teaching non-AP students for three years. “I feel prepared, but I know it’s going to be a lot of work.”

Rosenthal spent the week of July 9-13 living in Reade Hall and learning positive and effective teaching strategies and practical classroom use of the AP materials from all of the experienced teachers in her summer institute, including her course facilitator, Tom Willis, a 20-year veteran high school science teacher. She even had the chance to do all the laboratory assignments that will be required of her students beginning in the fall.

“It is good to be around teachers who have been doing this for a while and teachers who are new to AP like me,” said Rosenthal, who studied AP Biology as a high school student. “We are able to bounce ideas off each other.”

“School systems send us very motivated teachers who really want the best for their students,” said Monetti. “I am really impressed with the teachers’ work ethic. Even though they are not generally employed in the summer by their districts, they come to this training and work hard in order to get better at their craft.”

VSU’s AP Summer Institutes are the brainchild of Dr. Julia Reffel, a professor in the College of Education’s 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.

“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. Bob Bauer, Dr. Jim Reffel, and Monetti from the Department of Psychology and Counseling; Halter; Dr. Brian Gerber, interim dean of the College of Education; and Dr. Karla Hull, 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, “I guess one of the more obvious changes will be an increase in the amount of technology that is used in the training … not only an increase in the amount of technology but a reconceptualization of how the technology is used to help teachers and their students better understand and communicate ideas. We are also hopeful that the future brings with it increased diversity and broader access to rigorous AP-level curriculum. Lastly, we hope the future has us continuing to refine and improve teaching and assessment practices because those considerations are central to the value and meaningfulness of education.”

To learn more about Valdosta State University’s AP Summer Institutes, please visit www.valdosta.edu/conted/APSI or contact Dr. David M. Monetti, professor in the Department of Psychology and Counseling, at (229) 333-5930 or dmmonett@valdosta.edu or Dr. Julie Halter, director of Continuing Education, at (229) 249-2641 or jahalter@valdosta.edu.

To learn more about the College Board and its Advanced Placement program, please visit http://about.collegeboard.org.