October 25, 2021

Wells Interviewed on StoryWalk Project in The Free Lance-Star

Walking along the Rappahannock Heritage Trail, Stephanie Gardner and her kids, Piper and Pierce, read ‘Alex’s Day on the Rappahannock,’ written and illustrated by students in UMW’s College of Education, as part of Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation and Events department’s new StoryWalk(R) project. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Walking along the Rappahannock Heritage Trail, Stephanie Gardner and her kids, Piper and Pierce, read ‘Alex’s Day on the Rappahannock,’ written and illustrated by students in UMW’s College of Education, as part of Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation and Events department’s new StoryWalk(R) project. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Assistant Professor of Education Melissa Wells and her students were interviewed in The Free Lance-Star, along with Callie Brown ’17, Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation’s Outdoor Recreation Supervisor, about the class’s work on the StoryWalk project along the Rappahannock Heritage Trail.

The StoryWalk débuted on Fredericksburg’s Rappahannock River Heritage Trail last year—but now it features an original story written specially for the local community.

Students in University of Mary Washington education professor Melissa Wells’ “Literature and the Arts in Elementary Classrooms” course penned “Alex’s Day on the Rappahannock,” a 20-page storybook about a family discovering local wildlife and learning about river safety while tubing on the river. Read more.

College of Education, City Spin New Type of Story

Walking along the Rappahannock Heritage Trail, Stephanie Gardner and her kids, Piper and Pierce, read ‘Alex’s Day on the Rappahannock,’ written and illustrated by students in UMW’s College of Education, as part of Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation and Events department’s new StoryWalk(R) project. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Walking along the Rappahannock Heritage Trail, Stephanie Gardner and her kids, Piper and Pierce, read ‘Alex’s Day on the Rappahannock,’ written and illustrated by students in UMW’s College of Education, as part of Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation and Events department’s new StoryWalk(R) project. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Each time Melissa Wells has taught “Literature and the Arts in Elementary Classrooms,” her students have partnered with local teachers to create children’s books to use in their classes.

That wasn’t an option after the pandemic hit, said Wells, an assistant professor in University of Mary Washington’s College of Education (COE). But her colleague, Leslie Martin, faculty director of UMW’s Center for Community Engagement, had an idea.

She put Wells in touch with Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation and Events department, which recently launched a StoryWalk® project to get kids outdoors and reading. This semester, Wells’ students wrote and designed a 20-page storybook, Alex’s Day on the Rappahannock, about a family discovering wildlife and safety while tubing on the river. Rather than paper, the pages will be printed on panels along the Rappahannock Heritage Trail.

“The arts got many of us through the pandemic,” said Wells, who teaches aspiring educators how to integrate arts and literature into their curriculum. “As human beings, we naturally process our world and experiences through storytelling, which can help teach concepts that lead to deeper learning.” Read more.

Center for Teaching Announcement

A message from the Provost.

To all faculty and staff:

As we end the academic year and head into summer activity, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the significant work of the Center for Teaching and announce some changes. As you are aware, the Center for Teaching (along with Digital Learning Support) played a critical role in supporting our efforts to transition to remote instruction this past spring. The Center for Teaching is now fully engaged in summer faculty development and preparations for fall.

It is important to recognize that the foundation for this effort owes much to the leadership of Dr. Caitie Finlayson who served on special assignment as the Faculty Program Director during the past two years. Caitie’s task was to work with faculty to plan and develop a Center for Teaching responsive to the needs and interests of our diverse faculty. Thanks to her efforts, the Center has a clear direction, offers a variety of programs and resources, and works collaboratively with other areas to provide faculty development and support.

As part of this effort, Caitie also led the national search for a full-time administrator for the Center, which brought us one of our own: Dr. Victoria Russell. I am pleased to share that Victoria will now continue on in an expanded role as the Director of the Teaching Center.

This summer, Caitie has elected to conclude her special assignment having successfully completed the task of designing and launching the Center for Teaching. I know you join me in thanking Caitie for her outstanding service and leadership to the University over the past two years, and in welcoming Victoria to her additional responsibilities.

We are also pleased to announce that Dr. Elizabeth Johnson-Young has accepted a position as a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Teaching. Elizabeth will be joining our current Faculty Fellow, Dr. Melissa Wells, in providing teaching support through consultations and program initiatives. Elizabeth brings experience in digital and online practices, as well as an interdisciplinary understanding of effective teaching, that will strengthen the Center’s continued growth and collaboration with our Digital Learning Support colleagues.

 

Nina Mikhalevsky
Provost

Professor Wins Grant to Pen Open Education Textbook

Melissa Wells, an assistant professor in UMW’s College of Education, was recently awarded a $10,000 grant by VIVA – Virtual Library of Virginia – to write an Open Education Resources textbook.

Melissa Wells, an assistant professor in UMW’s College of Education, was recently awarded a $10,000 grant by VIVA – Virtual Library of Virginia – to write an Open Education Resources textbook.

It’s a dilemma faced by many students on financial aid. Funds often don’t hit accounts until a few weeks into the semester, so students can’t purchase textbooks, and they risk falling behind.

Melissa Wells, an assistant professor in UMW’s College of Education (COE), knows this scenario all too well. That’s why she’s designing an Open Education Resources (OER) textbook for her Foundations in Education course, thanks to a $10,000 grant from VIVA – Virtual Library of Virginia – a consortium of nonprofit academic libraries within the Commonwealth. News of the grant comes as educators nationwide celebrate Open Education Week, March 2 to 6.

As the cost of textbooks rises, so does the importance of providing access to personalized learning materials meant for diverse audiences. Buoyed by new Virginia legislation encouraging the adoption of open and affordable materials in higher education, Mary Washington professors like Wells are leading the way. Read more.