The Georgia Department of Education has sponsored regional, course-specific workshops for AP teachers for the last four years, according to the GaDOE website. So far, over 2,426 Georgia AP teachers have participated in the workshops.
Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo said the selection is a wonderful recognition of the Cherokee teachers’ hard work and dedication, as well as an opportunity for them to share their successful methods with other teachers.
“Advanced Placement classes are among our most rigorous and, as student performance is a factor in how Master Teachers are selected, this achievement is a reflection of the top-notch education Cherokee County’s children are receiving in our schools every day,” Petruzielo said in a news release Wednesday.
Students enrolled in AP courses study advanced, college-level material and may receive high school and/or college credit through the successful completion of an AP exam. District spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said the AP “Master Teachers” were selected to lead these seminars based on consistently high AP exam scores earned by their students.
“Compared with regular high school courses, the AP courses are more demanding, often requiring more time and more work, but studies show that AP students are highly successful in college,” Jacoby said.
The AP “Master Teachers” will be recognized by the superintendent and school board at the Sept. 6 Board of Education meeting, Jacoby said.
Jacoby said district teachers have previously been tapped for the honor, but the district has not kept a record of their selection before this year.
The selected teachers include Michael Sinco, AP World History teacher at Creekview; Mary Shell, AP World History teacher at Etowah; Elaine Dasher, AP English Literature teacher at Sequoyah; and three Woodstock educators — AP Psychology teacher Erin Hall , AP Economics teacher Josh Sailers and AP World History teacher Krista Webb.
Sinco, who has taught AP World History for the last three years, said he was surprised when he was contacted to lead a course in Gainesville.
“I was definitely humbled,” Sinco said. “I think sharing your best practices, what you’re doing in the classroom — that makes you successful.”
Sinco said about 90 percent of his students have passed the test each year.
“We’ve been happy with that, but they work really hard to get there,” Sinco said.
Webb said she plans to use her AP World History workshop to discuss primary source documents and best practices in essay writing — despite her students’ reluctance to write long compositions.
“They’re not so fond of it during the school year, but once they take the AP exam and they pass, they’re very, very excited,” Webb said.
During her 17 years teaching at Etowah, Shell has taught AP World History for the last seven years. Shell said she’s presented at two previous workshops where she’s bounced ideas off of other teachers about new activity and lesson ideas.
“Even though I’ve been a presenter, I still learn a lot because we have a sharing time,” Shell said. “I’ve always come back with a lot of ideas, too.”
Dasher, who has also been an AP reader for two years and taught at a previous workshop, has taught AP English Literature for the last seven years and is on her 19th year of teaching.
She said she enjoys the workshops because she has the opportunity to hear what other teachers are doing in the classroom not just in Cherokee, but throughout Georgia.
“Every AP teacher goes through training at an AP Institute, it’s very intensive,” Dasher said. “After the institute, you can teach your course, but other than interactions with other teachers in the county, you don’t really get much assistance in terms of instructional strategies that have been effective.”
Both Dasher and Shell said they are most interested to hear from teachers in more rural areas and those who may serve different demographics.
“Most of our students have taken honors classes before they get to us,” Dasher said. “For other schools, some of the students come from different backgrounds.”
Hall, who said she is on medical leave, said she hopes she will recover in time to go to the workshop.
“If I’m able to go … I would hope to share some of the classroom activities I do that I’ve learned from other AP psych teachers that have helped my students be successful on exams,” Hall said.
Sailers said workshop invitation or not, he’s always trying to increase his student scores each year by finding what worked in the previous year and tweaking it — a common thread among all of the selected teachers.
“I think what you’ll see with all these teachers — they love the subject they teach,” Sailers said. “I love coming in here every day — whether it’s talking about gas prices (and) why they went up or what’s going on in the Gulf — it’s fun. Those who tend to excel really love the subject they teach.”