On Saturday, April 1, 2017, the Presbyterian College education department hosted the third annual Charles Chadwell Special Education Institute, which was attended by classroom teachers from Greenville County Schools, Laurens School Districts 55 and 56; students from Presbyterian College, Clemson University and Bob Jones University; and professors from South Carolina State University, Bob Jones University, and Limestone College.
Dr. Tammy Pawloski, professor of early childhood education and director of the Center of Excellence to Prepare Teachers of Children of Poverty at Francis Marion University, led a day-long workshop entitled, “Challenges and Opportunities for Students with Disabilities: Why Poverty Matters and Why Schools Can Matter More,” which focused on the challenges faced by students who grow up in poverty and what teachers can do to assist those students.
“Although I had previously heard Dr. Pawloski and had implemented some of her strategies in my school, I was interested in learning more about her work with students in poverty, especially students with disabilities,” said Elizabeth Griffith, principal of Gallman Elementary School in Newberry. “Today’s conference allowed me the opportunity to learn additional strategies to further reach the needs of our students.”
Pawloski explained the effects of toxic stress on the brain, the science of learning, and ways teachers can help under-resourced learners.
“We are so fortunate to have the Charles Chadwell Endowment for Special Education at Presbyterian College,” said Dr. Julia Wilkins, assistant professor of education at Presbyterian College. “It was fascinating to hear the latest research from neuroscience and learn how teachers can reverse the negative effects of students’ experiences through positive interactions and effective learning strategies.”
“The development of a child’s brain is not fixed, and a teacher can facilitate brain development by the various research-based instructional strategies that they incorporate during each instructional period and by making sure every student is touched and included,” said Marlene Reed, program coordinator for the special education program at Bob Jones University.
Reed has attended all three institutes with her undergraduate students.
Sarah Fournier, a student who attended this year’s institute with Reed, reflected, “One thing that stuck with me is the ability a teacher really has to change minds every moment. Every word, activity, or practice makes a difference and is either helping or hurting children’s brains. That made me so motivated as a teacher to be the best I can be and be intentional in my instruction and relationships with students.”
In 2015, the Presbyterian College education department hosted the first annual Charles Chadwell Special Education Institute to promote understanding of individuals with disabilities and to help educators meet the needs of students with disabilities in the classroom. Each year PC education students help plan and host the event. This year’s event was a success thanks to the organizational skills of early childhood education majors Victoria Fleck, Kearson Huntsberger, and Cassie Kemmerlin, and psychology major Elizabeth McWhorter.