This is Arkansas, a regional history seminar for teachers, was held at Paris school auditorium on June 10. The seminar, in its twelfth year, attracts teachers from across the state and affords them the opportunity to experience the culture, history, and music of the South.
This is Arkansas had an outstanding class of educators and presenters, each of which presented a one-hour session on various aspects of Arkansas. The keynote address was entitled “An Introduction to this Sunny Land,” and was presented by Dr. Tom Wing, professor at UAFS and the curator of the Drennan House Museum. The Kentucky Thoroughbreds, a local blue-grass group, entertained the group with songs representing the culture and history of our region. Included were several songs from the movie “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” as well as traditional favorites. Dr. Glenda Ezell presented a program on the orphan train and its journey through the region. Strange to discover, many of the teachers in attendance had family members or were themselves decedents of those arriving on the orphan train as it passed through the south.
Always a crowd favorite, Mr. Patrick Millard of Waldron presented a repertoire of southern music accompanied by classic tales about growing up in the Ouachita mountains. Other speakers included Dr. Bob Crossman who discussed the Butterfield Stage and its travels through the Arkansas River Valley and Dr. Curtis Varnell who shared the topic “Everyone has a story.”
Normally held at the King Opera House in historic downtown Van Buren, due to the recent tornado, the seminar was moved to the Paris middle school auditorium. About one hundred teachers and guests were able to attend the seminar.
Guy Fenter hosts workshops throughout the summer to provide the professional development sessions required by the department of education. Most area teachers are required sixty-plus hours of instruction yearly to maintain licensure.
Passing by the coop at County Line, one can see parking lots filled with cars as area teachers receive training in subjects ranging from literacy and math to migrant education. In addition to RISE and other state-mandated programs, the co-op has hosted educational field trips to Hot Springs and the crystal mines, to Bluff Dwellers cave in Sulphur Springs, and fossil collection in the Ozarks.
During July, the coop will host a STEM conference in Waldron, a regional teacher conference in Alma, and several teacher workshops at the Huckabee Center in Fort Smith. Summers may be a teacher break from direct student instruction but teachers stay busy year-round preparing our students the best educational experience possible.