Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2009-06-25

About 300 educators will hear from two nationally known authors and attend special interest sessions during the Samford Summer Institute for Teaching Excellence (SSITE) June 29-July 1.

The conference for classroom teachers and administrators is sponsored by Samford University's Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies.

Keynote speakers include Rafe Esquith, author of Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire, and Susan Zimmerman, co-author of 7 Keys to Comprehension and Mosaic of Thought.

Esquith, who speaks Tuesday, June 30, at 8:30 a.m. in Brock Recital Hall, is known for his two decades of teaching fifth-graders at a public school in a Los Angeles neighborhood plagued by guns, gangs and violence. His students' academic successes have earned him a national Teacher of the Year Award and a president's National Medal of the Arts. He and his students were featured in a PBS documentary, The Hobart Shakespeareans.

Zimmerman, co-founder and former executive director of the Denver-based Public Education and Business Coalition, initiated many ground-breaking programs to improve the quality of public schools. Her Reading Project has been implemented in more than 100 schools. She also is the author of several books based on her personal experiences raising her profoundly handicapped daughter. She will speak Wednesday, July 1, at 8:30 a.m. in Brock Recital Hall.

Several dozen publishing representatives and Alabama authors of books for or about children will hold a book signing time on Tuesday morning.

SSITE participants, who represent public and private schools in Alabama and three other states, will choose from 35 breakout sessions led by practitioners, Samford professors and other professionals.

New this year is the chance to participate in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), based on a particular strand of interest. Themes include such topics as recognizing and increasing student engagement, and thinking outside the box. PLC participants may have follow-up meetings throughout the school year to help them implement strategies and become leaders at their schools.

SSITE speakers include Christian schooling specialist Dr. Jim Drexler, Dr. Jeanna Westmoreland, Dr. Deborah Childs-Bowen, Samford education dean Dr. Jean Ann Box, and 2003 national teacher of the year Dr. Betsy Rogers, who holds undergraduate and graduate education degrees from Samford. faculty members. Education faculty members Karen Birkenfeld and Amy Hoagland are 2009 SSITE co-directors.

Established in 1987, SSITE is designed to offer teachers and administrators of public and private schools an educational growth experience with presenters who address current educational issues. It is hoped that participants will return to their classrooms with new materials, practical ideas and fresh inspiration.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.