English education majors represented Slippery Rock University at the Pennsylvania Council for Teachers of English and Language Arts (PCTELA) annual conference at The Doubletree by Hilton in Green Tree, Pennsylvania. The conference took place Friday and Saturday Oct. 24 and 25.
Slippery Rock’s presence was very prominent at the conference. Of the 32 total panels presented, five of them were hosted completely or in-part by current Slippery Rock students, professors and recent graduates in the fields of secondary English, middle-level language arts, elementary education and special education. SRU-hosted panels included titles such as “I Would Have Loved That as a Teen! – Reflecting on YAL that speaks to the pre-service teacher,” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun: Energetic Student Teaching” and “Cultivating Deeper Engagement in the Text with Interactive Read-Alouds of Various Genres.”
Sarah Pruss, a junior middle level English/language arts education major and writing minor hosted a panel titled “Engaging Students with Young Adult Literature” along with two other Slippery Rock students.
“It was great to educate people on something that I love,” Pruss said. “Presenting to people who share the same passion that I do gave me confidence.”
SRU students also hosted a roundtable discussion about introducing non-traditional texts in the classroom. In addition to all of the presenters, several Slippery Rock students, including those from the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) attended PCTELA for the conference experience.
Conference highlights included guest speakers Stephen Chbosky (film director and author of Perks of Being a Wallflower) and Jay Asher (author of Thirteen Reasons Why). After giving motivating speeches geared towards English teachers, they also provided book signings. Sam Deconciliis, who graduated in May 2014 and is currently taking graduate courses at SRU while teaching at Academy Charter School found the speakers to be very inspirational. “Stephen Chbosky and Jay Asher genuinely want students to see that they aren’t alone and that people are here for them,” Deconciliis said. “That’s what we want as teachers. We want to let them know that we are more than just their English teachers, we’re here for support through the most awkward and intimidating years of their lives.”
Tim Oldakowski, English professor and liaison to secondary English education, was responsible for bringing the secondary and middle-level majors to the event. “I find it valuable for students to attend and present at conferences,” Oldakowski said. “It gives them experience beyond the classroom to focus on areas of their interest.”
Next year’s PCTELA conference will be held in Philadelphia, where SRU students are hoping to attend.