This was the sixth year that the Bedford Public Schools sponsored the summer institute. Tragedy and Hope: Exploring the Human Condition through Fiction, Poetry and Drama. Susan Rozen, Program Director for Reading, has worked with local universities to bring high quality professional development to our faculty. The summer 2009 offerings included a two day poetry institute. In her description of the outcomes from this institute, Dr. Rozen noted:
Patti’s Messinger’s British Literature class piloted a new unit on Modernism using poems by Wordsworth, Arnold, and Yeats describing past and present events that pointed, even 200 years ago, to crises of faith, politics, and the natural environment. To help students further grasp the parallels among these poems Patti used the techniques and materials from the two-day poetry workshop taught by Daniel Albright of Harvard University. Students engaged in an exercise in postmodern intertextuality by recording and illustrating key lines from each poem on four panels. Then, by mixing and matching the panels, they found some surprising parallels between the poems’ imagery and themes particularly in their prophecies of a darkly apocalyptic future . Patti also used a technique she learned for teaching “epic similes” from the second two-day workshop taught by a Boston University’s Classic Department professor, Stephen Esposito. Homer used similes to help others enter into the emotional world of his characters at critical moments of his story. For example, when a guest in Penelope’s home (her husband Odysseus in disguise) relates to Penelope one of his memories of entertaining Odysseus many years ago, she cries. The way Homer describes the scene takes us deep into her psyche and her emotional landscape. Having students draw a picture of this simile encourages them to use their artistic imaginations and helps them to understand how a great writer can convey an inner world of meaning and beauty. Patti’s students selected the simile from several in the book that they wanted to interpret through drawings.
Dr. Rozen’s efforts to bring rich, content based institutes to Bedford is appreciated by both faculty members and students. That blending of appropriate continuing education for our faculty with classroom implementation is one of the many factors that contributes to continuous growth at our high school.