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Ellen DeWitt

Professional Development and Meeting Reflections


Professional Development: Laura Bush
Laura Bush came to Samford to speak on March 26, 2015 as part
of Samfords Tom and Marla Corts Distinguished Author Series. This
was another event celebrating Orlean Bullard Beesons 100th
Anniversary. All of the education majors sat together for this event and
we were asked to stand by Dr. Box. Laura Bush is a former teacher and
librarian. Bush focused on the importance of literacy and teaching. She
spoke about life in the White House, her current life in Texas, and about
her admiration for those who teach and commit their lives to educating
students.
Laura Bush believes that every child everywhere should have
access to basic education. She believes that books have power and
every student deserves a chance. She spent time in the White House
promoting education and literacy.
She also spoke about her family. She spoke about her experience
in the White House during 9/11 and how they pushed through. She
made me realize that it is possible to get through the tough times and
to pursue what you are passionate about. She told us what her
daughters were doing and about her new grandson.
This was a wonderful evening and speaker as OBB celebrates
one hundred years of educating teachers. You could really hear Bushs

love for reading and teaching throughout her speech. Her class and
demeanor shined during her speech. She is family-centered first lady
and truly cares about more than just the political aspect of her life and
the world. She left me encouraged and excited for my future as a
teacher.
Professional Development: Jodi Magness
Chandler McAlister and I went to Temple Beth-El to hear Jodi
Magness speak. Magness teaches early Judaism at UNC Chapel Hill.
She has taught at Brown and Tufts in the past. Jodi Magness is
interested in archaeology at the sight of Huqok which is in Capernaum.
It was a Jewish village in the time of Jesus that relied on agriculture for
its economy. There was once a synagogue in Huqoq that she wanted to
excavate. Magness was really interested to see what happened to
Jewish communities during this time. Magness realized this must have
been a prosperous village because they built this elaborate synagogue.
Magness traveled to Huqoq and when she arrived, it was
bulldozed, weeded, and there was cow manure everywhere. There
really was nothing but land. You could see fractured architecture, which
meant there was a synagogue there once. The carvings seen were
similar to the synagogue at Capernaum. So, Magness decided to dig up
the synagogue. She took a study abroad group to begin digging. They
really did not know where to begin so they guessed. After digging for
one month, they found giant blocks of stone and they had part of the
synagogue wall. After digging more and more, they found mosaics with
beautiful patterns. All of the mosaics were as they were found; they
didnt put anything back together. The Samson scene from Judges 15
was found in one of the mosaics. They continued digging and finding
more walls of the synagogue and more mosaics. They realized the
mosaics were not from the Hebrew Bible. After digging more, they soon
realized this synagogue was gigantic. They realized the stories from
the mosaics were meant to be read from the bottom up.

Magness and her students are still continuing to excavate the


synagogue until it is completely exposed. She thinks the synagogue
will develop for tourism. This will be a huge investment costing tens of
millions of dollars. If nothing happens, they will have to backfill the
sight, unfortunately.
Going to this professional development opportunity was one of
the best decisions I have made all semester. It shocks me that
someone dug up and exposed something that was once completely
hidden. This made me wish she would take a group of Samford
students to help dig one summer. I am really glad I attended this
speaker and I wish our whole block had attended, not just Chandler
and me. Her work amazes me still today.
PTO Meeting 2/17/15: Professional Meeting
Victoria Rivera and I went to Trace Crossings on February 17th to
a PTO meeting. This was also Math Night at TCES. The meeting was in
the school cafeteria and there were parents, teachers, and a few
students there. The meeting began with a welcome from Mrs. Barber.
Peyton Newman, the head of the PTO, introduced the PTO business.
First, there was the approval of minutes from the November meeting;
they passed. Next, Mrs. Smith, the counselor, asked if anyone was
interested in serving on the 2015-2016 PTO Board. They announced
new members. Mrs. Smith is the chair of the nominating committee.
They asked for volunteers for picture day, field day, and the bike rodeo
and some parents agreed to help. Next, Gage announced a few PTO
fundraiser activities including Box Top, a coin drop, Sports Clips, and
Zaxbys. For the box tops, the student who brings the most in wins an
iPad mini. For Sports Clips, TCES receives $2 for every coupon used for
a haircut. They discussed upcoming dates for particular events and
then split up into different classrooms for math night.
There was an assigned classroom for each grade. Victoria
decided to go into the Kindergarten room, Mrs. Robinsons room, to

learn what the Kindergarteners were learning in math. Displayed on


the board was a chart with Kindergarten math standards and
corresponding games the students were playing to meet those
standards. On every table in the room were different games that
parents could look at or try out for themselves. We played some of the
games and talked to the Kindergarten math teachers.
Overall, I learned what PTO meetings are like. They consist of a
committee of parents and teachers who have a desire to better the
school, fundraise, and put on events. The Trace PTO seems well
organized and productive. I think I would like to get involved in PTO at
my future school where I teach. Math Night was short and not many
parents were there. I think Trace could have done something more
engaging and more school-wide for a math night. Perhaps have a math
bowl on the same night so more parents come. Overall it was a
productive night, however, and I learned about PTO meetings.

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