May 24, 2024

Education Professors Host 5th Annual EdTech Conference (

College of Education Co-Hosts Kindergarten Transition Conference

The University of Mary Washington College of Education, Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area and Germanna Community College came together Saturday, Nov. 8 to host the inaugural Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area Kindergarten Transition Conference.

Early childhood educators, caregivers, kindergarten teachers and school administrators participated in the event with the theme “Peek-A-Who,” which focused on cultural diversity, self-reflection and enhancing school-family-community partnerships.

The event featured a keynote presentation by Ken Smythe-Leistico from the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development. He is a nationally recognized early childhood education expert on transition best practices and developed the “Ready Freddy” program, which is being used by Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area.


EdTech Brings Regional Educators to UMW

Educators from across the region came together March 14 for the Fourth Annual EdTech Conference at the University of Mary Washington to talk about ways to change learning in the digital age. Students from J.W. Alvey Elementary School show Catherine Walker, adjunct instructor for the UMW College of Education, a project that they are completing. Pictured from left are Walker, fourth-graders Misha Padigala and Jessica Minelli. Sponsored by the College of Education, the day began with a keynote presentation by Director of Teaching and Learning at UMW Jim Groom who spoke about publishing and archiving student work, UMW blogs, digital storytelling and why K-12 educators should incorporate those tools in the classroom. “What we do as educators – what we do in higher ed and K-12 – is share a hope. It’s a hope that what we’re doing is framing a whole world of possibility and connections. And the Web is the single greatest tool ever invented to help us build on what we do,” said Groom. “It’s a remarkable world that we live in.” The conference also included a variety of sessions from “Animoto Movies in Your Class!” to “Expanding Your Web 2.0 Toolkit.” One session, “Frames and Share, You Can Do It!,” featured presentations from J.W. Alvey Elementary School students who created short movies and presentations. In the afternoon, Margaret Stout, a teacher at Antietam Elementary, introduced participants to Google Glass and demonstrated how she’s using the new technology in her classroom to teach students with autism. The conference ended with a panel discussion about current issues and challenges. From left to right, seventh-grader Danbi Rhee, second-grade teacher Roxanne Edwards, third-grade teacher Juliette Snyder and sixth-grader Ben Kopek introduce EdTech participants to Frames and Shares and explain how it can be used in an elementary classroom. Teresa Coffman, associate professor in the College of Education,  and Tami Pratt-Fartro, assistant professor in the College of Education, helped to create the annual conference four years ago with the goal of forming a regional network of educators who come together to share great teaching practices. That goal has remained intact. “I want people to build connections and community. I want them to think about their pedagogy in new and different ways and to use technology to foster learning in the classroom to engage their students to think critically and creatively,” said Coffman. “I want people to explore professional development in new and exciting ways.”

Literacy Symposium Attracts Participants Statewide

Nearly 150 literacy leaders came together Oct. 10 for the fourth Annual Literacy Leadership Symposium at the University of Mary Washington Stafford campus. Michael McKenna, Thomas G. Jewell Professor of Reading at the University of Virginia, speaks to literacy leaders from across the state of Virginia. The event, hosted by the UMW College of Education in partnership with Stafford County Public Schools, focused on the theme Reaching All Learners and featured a variety of speakers, including a presentation by Michael McKenna, Thomas G. Jewell Professor of Reading at the University of Virginia. “Building background before they read can improve their ability to comprehend,” said McKenna, who spoke about fostering lifelong readers and gave some basic tips and tricks to engage students. The daylong conference also featured a variety of breakout sessions taught by K-12 literacy leaders from across the state discussing topics from the English Standards of Learning to blogging in the literacy classroom to building vocabulary. “We want to provide a venue for collaboration and professional learning for literacy leaders across the state. To give time for conversation and time to learn together within a professional environment,” said Nancy Guth, supervisor of literacy and humanities for Stafford County Public Schools. Attendees included teachers, administrators and reading specialists from Virginia Beach to Staunton, Va. Patty Breland, reading specialist at Kate Waller Barrett Elementary Schools takes notes during a breakout session at the 4th Annual Literacy Leaders Symposium. “We are so pleased to be able to collaborate with Stafford County Public Schools to support the professional learning of literacy leaders,” said Tamie Pratt-Fartro, assistant professor in the UMW College of Education. Other notable speakers included Richard Long, director of government relations for the International Reading Association, Elizabeth Sturtevant, professor of literacy at George Mason University, and Tracy Fair Robertson, English coordinator for the Virginia Department of Education.