Since 2004, Samford University’s Orlean Beeson School of Education has partnered with a Birmingham-area elementary school for the annual John and Frances Carter Young Authors Conference.
This year, more than 100 third-grade students from Trace Crossings Elementary School will visit Samford April 4. The event will be hosted by teacher education students from Samford in partnership with education students from Miles College in Birmingham.
Every year, the event focuses on diversity in literature, and this year is no different. Trace Crossings’ students will be split into groups, and each group will focus on a different book that highlights diversity. Bud, Not Buddy, a book that focuses on an African American boy, Rules, which focuses on a child with special needs, and Esperanza Rising, a book that has a Hispanic girl as the main character, are just three of the books students will dive into this year. Teacher education students will then lead a planned activity that incorporates what the third-grade students have read.
Michele Haralson, event coordinator and director of the school of education’s Curriculum Materials and Technology Center, believes the event is important because it gives Samford teacher education students the “opportunity to work with diverse peers and students, which doesn’t always happen in a career setting.” Samford students visit Trace Crossings and work within the classroom three to four days a week during their junior year, but during this event, they are able to work with other education students from Miles College and hear their experiences.
“This makes it a very rich event,” said Haralson.
Guest storyteller and author Rick Shelton will be back for the event. Shelton spends more than 120 days each year visiting classrooms, where he works with students and teachers. His book, Write Where You Are! explains the techniques he uses during his workshops. It is used in classrooms throughout the Southeast. Shelton was also the winner of the Alabama Library Association’s Alabama Author Award for Juvenile/Young Adult Literature for his first children’s book, Hoggles Christmas.
The conference is named for Drs. John and Frances Carter, who both taught in Orlean Beeson School of Education. Over the years, the Carters continued to support school of education programs through scholarships and as sponsors of the conference. Frances Carter plans to attend the event this year, Haralson said.
Sara Roman is marketing and communication coordinator for Orlean Beeson School of Education.