18 April 2015

Visiting Piedmont College for Alumni Weekend

Piedmont College

Nestled beautifully in the mountains of Northeast Georgia, Piedmont College offers a top-notch liberal arts education. Read about what it did for me.  On a recent Saturday we returned to our Alma Mater for Alumni Weekend. My husband and sons as well as my parents and in-laws all met in Demorest where we stayed in an amazing house my in-laws found and rented for the weekend.

View from bedroom window at house we rented in Demorest
Though we hadn't been back to Piedmont in fourteen years, my husband and I were warmly welcomed back by professors who reminisced with us about the days when we were students. They also dreamed with us about the future of education (higher ed & K-12). Our conversations focused on the importance of education being

  • thoughtful
  • purposeful
  • creative
English Professor Lisa Hodgens thoughtfully nominated me for the 2015 Excellence in Education award which I accepted at a ceremony on Saturday night for my contributions to education on the local, state, and national level. Knowing the nomination came from Lisa made it meaningful, and when asked to give a few words at the ceremony, I became choked up from gratitude for my experiences at Piedmont. Without a doubt, Piedmont provided the understandings I needed to develop a thoughtful, purposeful, and creative approach to teaching and learning.

At the awards ceremony, the Alumni Office (some of the friendliest staff) played a video of snapshots from my time at Piedmont with photographs of some of my favorite people and experiences. My opportunities at Piedmont included traveling each spring to the Southern Literary Festival where we would hear great authors read their works of literature. In 1995 we visited Ole' Miss in Oxford and toured Rowan Oak where we saw William Faulkner's penciled handwriting on the wall.

We also traveled with Dr. Hodgens abroad to England the summer after graduation. There we studied Shakespeare with the Royal Shakespeare Company, attended numerous plays, and explored the historical cities of Oxford and London. Experiences such as these can't be traded for book work, and I'm grateful for the thoughtfully and creatively designed programs Piedmont offered.

Not all of our experiences involved travel; we also engaged in meaningful discussions in our classes. My entire Master's program provided a purposeful look at education, and especially worth noting was a graduate school course titled American High School taught by Dr. Hilton Smith. We read books by John Goodlad and George Wood and discussed numerous critical studies by Ted Sizer and Debra Meier. Our open-ended discussions of these texts encouraged us to develop our own philosophy of education and mine certainly included an emphasis on student choice and interest.

Piedmont College

During Alumni Weekend, we enjoyed touring the campus, seeing all the renovations, attending a reception at President Mellichamp's house, celebrating at the awards banquet and attending a play afterwards in the new Swanson Center Black Box Theatre. Fortunately, we made it back to campus for brunch on Sunday with Hilton Smith and his wife Sara Tucker. Our conversation went straight to catching up on education trends, policies, and practices as we exchanged ideas, perspectives, and stories--the kinds of stories that keep us going in a world of education where we feel like people have sometimes forgotten to be intentional. However, with our dedication to the larger purpose, we carry-on hopeful to make an impact through thoughtful, purposeful, and creative education geared toward providing students choice and interest in their learning. Of course, you might recall my previous blog post where I discussed my correspondence with Hilton and my dream of a starting a Teacher Powered School.

We enjoyed this fantastic play by the Theatre Dept. Alumni Weekend