Spotlight on Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature
Written by Anthony Pellegrino, associate professor of social science education.
For this “program highlight”, we go outside the typical Theory and Practice in Teacher Education (TPTE) programs, and focus on the Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature (CCYAL). This center has emerged as a leader in scholarship in young adult literature research and practice in the nation. In this segment, we hear from TPTE Assistant Department Head, Susan Groenke, who is also the center’s Director and a professor of English education.
What’s the origin story of the CCYAL? Why was it established and what role has it filled in the department/field?
The CCYAL was established in 1999—in fact, this academic year (2019-2020) represents the center’s 20-year anniversary! In 1999, Jinx Watson, retired associate professor in the College of Communication and Information, and Ken Wise, professor, who is now in Special Collections in Hodges Library and is also co-director of the Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project, started the center to house a viewing collection of award-winning, high quality children’s and teen books. Jinx and Ken wanted to raise public awareness about the high-quality children’s picture books and books for youth published every year. They also wanted to bring authors to Knoxville for school visits and campus lectures.
We carry on these traditions today with a collection of about 5,000 recently published books that we maintain for public viewing. We establish relationships with book publishers—including small and little-known presses, to procure high quality books. When we receive new books, we spend a lot of time vetting them to ensure that we have the best books available to those who visit the center. We also host professional development workshops with local teachers and librarians so we can get the books off the shelves and into the hands of those who can turn kids on to reading. Finally, we also bring authors to Knoxville twice a year to visit local Title I, or high-poverty, schools. Because it is our 20th anniversary this year, we are kicking off a fundraising campaign to raise money to support an annual author-in residence program and an annual lecture series. Be on the lookout for news about ways you can support the center’s important work!
Does the CCYAL interface with the literacy doctoral program? If so how?
The PhD program in CCYAL was established in 2015 to offer graduate students opportunities to pursue deep study in the history, evolution, and current trends of children’s and young adult literature. Graduate students in the CCYAL program work as graduate assistants in the center, managing the center’s book collection; planning and implementing professional development (PD) workshops for local teachers and librarians; maintaining the center’s social media presence; and organizing author visits. The center is also home to The ALAN Review, a peer-reviewed (refereed) journal published by the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English (ALAN). It is devoted solely to the field of literature for young adults and is published three times per academic year (fall, winter, and summer). Graduate students in the PhD program serve as co-editors of The ALAN Review.
What have been some highlights of your work with the center?
Highlights for us include bringing authors to Knoxville and watching them meet with young people. We have hosted such award-winning writers as Rita Williams-Garcia, Jason Reynolds, and Kekla Magoon—all young adult (YA) authors who write important stories for young people. Jason Reynolds has such a powerful stage presence—he had over 200 students at Austin-East High School eating out of the palm of his hand when he visited! English teachers at West High School teach one of Kekla Magoon’s books—How It Went Down–to all their 10th grade students every year, so it was pretty neat to watch the students who had read her book get to meet her. Kekla led students through a readers’ theater and taught a writing workshop. She had all the students writing and sharing their poetry by the end of the day! It was a personal highlight for me to meet Rita Williams-Garcia, who wrote a beautiful YA novel called Like Sisters On the Homefront in the mid-1990s. I was a middle school language arts teacher then, and I remember giving that book to a reluctant reader who ended up loving the novel and asked for more books like that to read! I had the opportunity to share that story with Rita when she was here. Introducing her just made me feel like I had come full circle through my work with the center. Other highlights include meeting local teachers and librarians through our PD workshops who are excited to learn how to use high-quality children’s picture books in their content areas. We love watching teachers walk into the center–their eyes just light up when they see the books and know they are getting PD credit to “play with books” and learn how to integrate good books into their curriculum.
What kinds of projects (doctoral or specifically CCYAL) do you have coming up or are planning for in the future?
I am teaching a new advanced course in young adult literature for graduate students this fall. There are so many important trends and issues happening in the field right now, especially around diversity/(mis)representation in the genre, and the connections that exist among reading engagement, empathy, and socio-emotional learning. I decided to offer the course because I felt like students in our PhD program needed a space to more deeply consider these issues, how they might affect teacher preparation and our own ongoing research in the field.
We are also excited to host Alan Gratz, author of such YA books as Refugee, Grenade, Code of Honor (and many others) to Knoxville in October 2019. He will visit with beginning teachers on campus Oct. 23rd, and then will be out in local schools on Oct. 24th. We are also hoping to host the children’s book author, Alice Faye Duncan, who wrote the award-winning Martin, Memphis, and the Mountaintop (and many other fabulous books!) in spring 2020. Alice Faye Duncan graduated with an MLS in Library Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1991, and is currently an elementary school librarian in Memphis, TN, as well as award-winning author!
We are also celebrating our 20th-year anniversary this academic year, so we are kick starting a fundraising campaign to support a new annual author-in-residence program and an annual author lecture series.
Please consider supporting CCYAL’s efforts to bring children’s and teen authors to UT and the Knoxville community.
Art Education – Beyond Glitter and Glue
Written by Anthony Pellegrino, associate professor of social science education.
The art education program is housed in the department of Theory & Practice in Teacher Education (TPTE). Joy Bertling is an assistant professor of art education and serves as the program leader. In the past few years, she has worked to increase the visibility of the program through recruitment activities and community outreach. As part of those efforts, she has established important connections with faculty in the School of Art and worked closely with area schools in professional development and clinical practice.
We asked professor Bertling to share some information about the program and the experiences of the prospective art educators in it.
What are some typical backgrounds of the candidates you see the art education program?
Students admitted into the art education program come from a variety of backgrounds. Approximately two-thirds of students pursue art education by completing the art education minor as undergraduates while completing their Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in studio art. The other third represents students who decide to pursue art education after they have completed their bachelor’s degrees. These students may or may not have graduated with a major in studio art and usually have work experience in fields at least peripherally related to art or education, such as social work or graphic design. These students take the undergraduate prerequisites in studio art, art history, art education, and education before enrolling in the professional year along with the more traditional students.
What courses and clinical experiences are included in the program?
The art education minor includes a practicum experience course, two art education methods courses, and other education courses. During the professional year, students complete a year-long internship and graduate coursework designed to lead toward a master’s degree. In ARED 530, art teacher candidates have the opportunity to engage in artmaking, which culminates in our annual art education intern juried art exhibition. The works from this year’s exhibit are currently on display in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences dean’s suite.
What do you hope your teacher candidates know and are able to do after completing the art education program?
The art education program is designed to prepare students as artist-teachers and leaders in the field of art education. Graduates go on to serve in informal and formal educational settings, such as public and private schools, art museums, community centers, and other art agencies and institutions.
What is the current state of art in area schools?
From my experience, art teachers are in high demand in this area. Our graduates have high job placement rates. For instance, last year, all spring graduates secured full-time art teaching positions by May 1. After that date, I still had principals contacting me who were looking to fill open positions.
How does the art education program work with area schools and art teachers?
Clinical experiences are scaffolded throughout the program to prepare art teacher candidates for their future roles as art educators. In ARED 350, they observe two mentor teachers, one elementary and one secondary, and assist them in their classrooms. Then, in ARED 520, we work together with students in Inskip Elementary School’s summer program as we engage in place-based and community-based art education. The next semester, candidates begin their yearlong internship, which includes placements at elementary, middle, and secondary levels. Over the course of the internship, interns take on more responsibility in the classroom.
What are your plans for the program moving forward?
Our program has been active with our national and state professional organizations. For instance, we have a student chapter of the National Art Education Association. In recent years, our faculty, students, and alumni have received multiple awards from the Tennessee Art Education Association and faculty and students have served on the board of the state organization. However, I would like to see more students have opportunities to attend the state and national conferences associated with these organizations. I believe these early experiences of engaging in professional development as part of a wider learning community can be rewarding and establish patterns of professional participation that can span a career. I am currently working in my role as higher education division representative with the Tennessee Art Education Association to find ways so that conference registration can be free for pre-service teachers.