Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teacher Can Be a Model for Students

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teacher Can Be a Model for Students

Article excerpt

Nassau County teachers Janet and Phil Dignan find they are better teachers when they remember how to be students.

The pair soon will travel to Eckerd College in St. Petersburg to participate in the Florida Center for Teachers fall program. Sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council, the week-long, all-expenses-paid seminar is designed to recognize and reward the state's best teachers. Selection is based on passion for learning and a commitment to excellence in education.

Phil Dignan, who teaches journalism at Hilliard Middle-Senior High School, left for St. Petersburg Wednesday to take a seminar called, "Finding A Common Path." Taught by David Hackett and Ray Arsenault, formally of Fernandina Beach, the class addresses multi-cultural issues.

"I felt like this would be a great opportunity to enrich myself and to serve as a model for students," Dignan said. "I think when a teacher stops being curious, it's time to get out of the profession. I'm always willing to let my students know that I don't know everything and that we can work on discovering it together."

Dignan who has never taught outside Nassau County, said he believes it's important for him to get perspectives from other areas. Last summer, he spent a week at Harvard studying American Democracy in the Media and has also spent a month in Oregon studying Shakespeare under the National Endowment for the Humanities.

"I've really benefitted from enrichment programs," he said. "I came back so fired up. I almost think teachers should be required to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities."

Janet Dignan, who will be attending one of the fall program's later sessions called, "Hip-hop, Hoops and Homies," about popular culture, said she believes it's important for all teachers to take advantage of educational opportunities.

"This is our third year attending this conference and I've brought back information about them for my colleagues and no one takes advantage of them," said Janet Dignan, who teaches at Atlantic Elementary School. "It's disappointing because this is such a wonderful program. Teachers need to take advantage of the opportunities that are out there. …

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