2013-06-20 / Education

English teacher selected for prestigious summer seminar

by BETHANY WILLIAMS
Intern


Kathy Holmes, an English teacher at Orchard Park Middle School, has been chosen to attend a National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminar. Kathy Holmes, an English teacher at Orchard Park Middle School, has been chosen to attend a National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminar. Kathy Holmes, a seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher at Orchard Park Middle School, has been chosen to attend a National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminar.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is “an independent grant-making agency of the federal government,” according to its website. Each teacher selected receives a grant to attend the seminar for which he or she is chosen.

The organization is selective and receives many applications from K-12 teachers across the country. Approximately 40 teachers are chosen to attend each seminar.

To apply for the seminars, teachers are required to compose an essay stating their interest in a topic and how more information on the topic would lead to further education in the classroom.

Holmes applied to attend the “Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School in the Midwest” and “Clinton’s Ditch: The Erie Canal in Western New York.” seminars.

She was accepted for both seminars but could choose only one to attend.

Holmes chose the seminar featuring Wright and architecture, held in Mason City, Iowa. Although she applied for a seminar last year, this is her first time attending one.

The one-week seminar will focus on Wright’s personality and work in architecture, specifically in the Midwest. Other well-known architects of the Midwest will also be featured.

Teachers are given a required reading list on the topic and will study Wright’s floor plans and building designs. They will also return to their classrooms with lesson plans on Wright and his architecture.

Holmes’ interest in architecture began in college after she learned about Wright’s connection to Buffalo.

“I have always been interested in architecture, and [Wright] is a huge curiosity of mine,” said Holmes. “Architecture tells a story, and as a teacher of literature, I am intrigued.”

She has held a lifelong passion for the Arts and Crafts movement and frequently takes her students to the Roycroft Campus.

The location of the seminar is the most exciting aspect for Holmes. The seminar will be held at the historic Park Inn Hotel, the only remaining hotel designed by Wright. The hotel was restored in 2003 and has 27 active hotel rooms. Holmes will be staying in the hotel during the seminar.

“Having an opportunity to learn more about the man and explore the last remaining hotel designed by him would be priceless,” wrote Holmes in her application essay.

Studying the Prairie School architecture in the Midwest in person is also an aspect Holmes is looking forward to.

“I love architecture being one with the natural environment it is designed for,” said Holmes. “The Prairie School accomplishes exactly that.”

She plans to incorporate what she learns at the seminar into projects in her classroom.

“I am fortunate enough to work with a social studies teacher who collaborates with me on projects, so our approach to instruction is cross-disciplinary and multifaceted,” Holmes said.

She is certified to teach both English and social studies and continually looks for a chance to connect the arts and history for her students.

“I wish I had learned what I know now early as a kid,” said Holmes. “Architecture is a way for students to tangibly see and experience the style and substance of an era, a people and a region. I would very much like to explore ways to bring that aspect of the world to my students.”

Additionally, Sue Chudy and Rachelle Francis, teachers in the district, were chosen to attend a seminar this summer titled “Inventing America: Lowell and the Industrial Revolution” in Lowell, Mass.

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