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Chap Connection Professional Development Equips New Teachers for the Classroom

The 5th annual Chap Connection, a professional development workshop for new teachers hosted by the School of Education, was held Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. This year, 27 graduates returned to campus to take advantage of Chap Connection.

Chap Connection targets LCU graduates who have been teaching in K-12 classrooms for five years or less and works to provide them with relevant educational tools in a field that is constantly changing. This year’s theme focused on using technology to improve learning environments.

“These graduates get out in their classrooms after we supported them through school,” said Cathy Box, one of the coordinators for Chap Connection and a member of the School of Education faculty. “Some have support, some don’t. Some have mentors, some don’t. A high number of teachers don’t last five years due to lack of support. We want our teachers to have additional support.

Teachers who participate receive 6 hours of professional development credit to help meet their certification requirements. Sessions throughout the day included several guest speakers, a Q & A panel with alumni during lunch, and a Share-a-Thon for participants to discuss their individual teaching styles. Sessions topics are structured based on what Chap Connection participants requested the year prior.

“Chap Connection was a great refresher course to help keep me motivated to find the most innovative ways to inspire and teach all my students,” said Tate Albright (‘13), who now teaches locally at the middle school grade level.

This year, the first session, led by Brian Ellyson (Master of Education Leadership '13), covered how Google tools can be utilized in the classroom. In the second session, Dwenette Stevenson taught participants how to effectively “flip” a classroom. The flipped classroom is an education model that utilizes technology to allow students to take lessons and view lectures at home, so that classroom time may be used primarily for the application of knowledge. The third session split teachers into elementary and secondary groups to focus on the differences in technological application in different grade levels.

Chap Connection is primarily funded through Alumni Relations, Graduate Education, and the Jean Hines Endowment. Cathy Box, Jennifer Hardin, and Annette Mahan coordinated the event, but everyone pitches in to make the development day a success. Chap Connection is a group effort, and the School of Education hopes to bring in a variety of perspectives from the educational community.

Becca Biard (‘14), a Chap Connection participant who teaches at the high school level, found the day very rewarding. “Chap Connection is so much more than professional development. It is a day where my alma mater reaches out to me so that I may be encouraged, uplifted, and refreshed. It is yet another reminder of just how much LCU cares and invests in not only its current students, but its former students as well. I truly feel like I got to come back home.”

Already, ideas are being processed for the 6th Chap Connection. “There is a very unique culture of community and family in the LCU School of Education,” Box said in closing. “These graduates know that they are still part of the family, and can rely on us. I think that sets us apart from other education programs.”