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Holmes Scholars Give, Receive Much at AACTE

During last month’s AACTE Annual Meeting, the Holmes Program preconference events brought together 74 Holmes Scholars, at least 15 coordinators, and numerous alumni from across the nation. The events, facilitated by the Holmes Scholars Council, AACTE, and the National Association of Holmes Scholars Alumni (NAHSA), included participants from 17 member institutions, more than a dozen presenters, and the program’s first cohort of undergraduate students, known as Holmes Honors students. Attendees shared their research, held a variety of formal and informal meetings, and elected new leaders for the coming year.

While attending, we observed the act of relationship building during program sessions and after hours where the new relations began to take root. Participants were clearly excited about the opportunities to connect with peers from around the nation and to participate in conference sessions that were inspiring and powerful. Representatives from AACTE and NAHSA answered what seemed like endless inquiries about program implementation and growth strategies. Considering the overall feedback from participants, all in attendance walked away with a wealth of knowledge as well as new friends and colleagues.

One of the most memorable programming highlights was the incredible participation during the research symposium poster session. Scholars had the opportunity to present their research-in-progress and receive feedback about their work. Another highlight was the always-appreciated participation from NAHSA mentors, who held sessions targeting areas of interest to scholars to help with their doctoral journey. Topics such as mentoring, research, and the job search process were a few of the key areas of focus.

In a new addition to Holmes programming, AACTE Board of Directors Chair Mark Ginsberg (George Mason University, VA) spoke during the opening reception, highlighting the need to diversify the teaching profession. Pedro Noguera (University of California, Los Angeles), AACTE’s keynote speaker, hosted an intimate Q&A specifically for Holmes participants, where conversations centered on the highly divisive challenges manifested in communities such as Ferguson, Missouri, leading to movements such as Black Lives Matter. The conversation examined the invisible role that education policy plays in these situations.

At the Holmes closing ceremony, approximately 30 new scholars were inducted, and NAHSA introduced a “Holmes Scholars creed” to be used in each year’s induction ceremony. The recent expansion of the Holmes Program was also highlighted, aiming to increase the ranks of high-caliber PK-12 teachers and administrators who hail from historically underrepresented groups.

Also during the preconference events, participants elected a new Holmes Scholars Council. After delivering dynamic speeches, candidates were selected via an electronic vote, and they were sworn into their positions during the closing ceremony. The new board is as follows:

  • President: Whitney Watkins, University of Central Florida
  • Vice President: Terrance McNeil, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University
  • Secretary: Shalander Samuels, University of Central Florida
  • Research Coordinator: Shaywanna Harris, University of Central Florida
  • Sergeant at Arms: Dana Dunwoody, Boston University
  • Historian: Carlos Richardson, Bowie State University
  • General Alternates: Alvin Davis, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, and Portia Williams, Auburn University

For more information about the AACTE Holmes Program, visit http://aacte.org/programs-and-services/holmes-program.

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Whitney Watkins

Holmes Scholars Council President, 2015-2017

Omar Davis

Manager of Member Engagement, AACTE