Author Archives: Robin Mara

Teachers Illuminate the Art and Chemistry of Light at the Bechtler Museum on May 21

CTI invites the community to explore the many aspects of light through the lenses of art, science and education at The Art and Chemistry of Light, a Teachers as Scholars event on Tuesday, May 21, at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. The program features presentations and discussions with local educators who studied the topic together in a 2018 CTI seminar (The Art and Chemistry of Light), including UNC Charlotte Chemistry Scholar Tom Schmedake and 11 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers.

The event begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. showcasing new teaching ideas educators developed during their CTI seminar led by Dr. Schmedake. The main program begins at 6:30 p.m., featuring mini-presentations by Schmedake and five teachers on a range of topics, followed by a panel discussion.  Admission is free and open to the public. Guests are asked to REGISTER HERE.

Schmedake will discuss the art and chemistry of light in the context of his own research and the experience of leading a recent seminar with teachers. The mini-presentations will examine: the role of light energy in an elementary art class; the cyanotype printing process in high school photography; energy and society in middle school science; the application of light in high school forensic science; and hands-on light demonstrations for high school students with intellectual disabilities. 

During the reception other seminar teachers will share poster presentations on the application of light energy in high school chemistry; the color visualizations of linear functions in middle school math; principles of light energy in middle school science; the visible light spectrum in high school science; and light, color and Dr. Seuss in a first grade classroom.

Reception guests can also view the museum’s Nomadic Murals: Tapestries of the Modern Era exhibition showcasing a diverse collection of modern art tapestries from the mid-20th century. 

This event is part of CTI’s Teachers As Scholars educational series for the public that highlights collaborative work by professors and teachers in CTI seminars. This project was made possible by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

About the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art 
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art opened in Charlotte on January 1, 2010. The majority of the museum’s holdings originated with Hans and Bessie Bechtler, Swiss collectors based in Zurich, who mainly collected European modern art created during the mid-20th century. Their son, Andreas Bechtler, donated the majority of his collection to the city of Charlotte and to house it the City hired renowned Swiss architect Mario Botta to design the museum. The building and the Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture, L ‘Oiseau de Feu sur l’Arche (The Firebird), which stands in front of it, have already become icons for the region. The collection holds over 1,500 works by Alberto and Diego Giacometti, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Jean Tinguely, Le Corbusier, Pablo Picasso, Alfred Manessier, Gustave Singier, Pierre Soulages, Max Ernst, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol (who executed the family portraits), Meret Oppenheim, Tom Wesselmann, Kenneth Noland, Victor Vasarely, Hans Hartung, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Mark Tobey, Sam Francis, Paul Klee, Georges Rouault, Fernand Léger, Nicolas de Staël, Eduardo Chillida, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, and others. 

CTI Fellows Present New Curricula at National Council on Black Studies Conference in New Orleans

CTI Fellows presented new curricula they developed at the National Council on Black Studies (NCSB) Conference in New Orleans, March 6-9, 2019. The five Fellows, joined by CTI Executive Director Scott Gartlan and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Director of Diversity and Inclusion Chiquitha Lloyd, included:

  • Larry Bosc, American History Teacher (retired), East Mecklenburg High School
  • Eli Davis, Special Education, Lincoln Heights Academy
  • Latonda Mitchell, 5th Grade, Mountain Island Lake Academy
  • Eboné Lockett, English, Cato Middle College High School
  • Roshan R. Varghese, American History, Butler High School

Their roundtable panel’s abstract below provides an overview of their group presentation. Each member of the panel also provided individual presentations at the conference.

Traveling to Montgomery from Charlotte: Educators Explore A Legacy of Lynching in K-12 Classrooms

In August 2017, a diverse group of 26 Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) teachers attended a presentation and workshop led by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). Then Charlotte Teachers Institute (CTI) offered two seminars for CMS teachers aligned with EJI’s work called “Media and Minorities: Unpacking Stereotypes”, and “Memorials, Memories, and American Identity.” In a culminated trip to Montgomery, AL, the teachers participated in the opening of EJI’s Legacy Museum and the Memorial for Peace and Justice in April 2018. Teachers presented their reflections and new curricula to the Director of Diversity and Inclusion in CMS. This included curriculum innovations in each of their classrooms as well as a workshop for Charlotte-Mecklenburg teachers on implicit bias, which occurred in August 2018. Additionally, planning is underway to include two new curriculum units in all American History II classes in 2020 that focus on both national and local events around 2 key subjects: Jim Crow and the Fight for First Class Citizenship (1876-1953) and The Modern Civil Rights Movement and Beyond: The Fight for Social and Economic Justice (1954-the Present). The panel will discuss these curricular ideas, the implicit bias training for teachers, existing CTI curricula on racial terror lynchings, and efforts in Charlotte-Mecklenburg to collaborate with EJI to bring historical markers and a memorial to commemorate the two documented acts of racial terrorism in Charlotte.

2019 CTI Seminar Applications Open Now – Apply Today!

Applications for the eight new 2019 CTI Seminars are open now until Sunday, March 17, at midnight. All Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers who instruct students full-time are eligible. Here’s where to find info on how to apply.

Exploring American Sacred Values – A CTI Teachers As Scholars Event: Feb. 21 at the Gantt Center

CTI will host the public event “Exploring American Sacred Values” on Thursday, Feb. 21, at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture, as part of CTI’s Teachers As Scholars series.

2018 CTI Seminar Leader Kendal Mobley, assistant professor of religion at Johnson C. Smith University, will discuss American civil religion as “religion repurposed to infuse the present political order and with sacred significance and authority,” and how it shapes current national traditions, symbols and beliefs. The Feb. 21 program also features presentations and discussions with CTI Fellows in the 2018 Exploring American Sacred Values seminar who studied the topic together in 2018.

Four Fellows (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers) will deliver mini-presentations on curricula they developed in the seminar that examine: CMS values related to America’s founding fathers, pay-for-play in college sports, forced conformity in early Native American schools and media influence on social values and the American dream. Additional Fellows will share their new curricula on the topic via poster presentations.

This CTI event begins with an opening reception at 5:30 p.m., where attendees can view Fellows’ curriculum exhibits related to American values that the teachers targeted to address with students. Topics include: how Charlotte’s Excelsior Club nurtured community; segregation, civil rights and legislation; voting as a civic duty; oppression of women; acculturation of English language learners; and what it means to be an American.

Reception guests can also view the Gantt Center’s What We Ask Is Simple exhibition about 20th-century protest and Welcome to Brookhill a display about economic equity and affordable housing.

The main program begins at 6:30 p.m. and includes Mobley’s talk, the mini-presentations by teachers and a panel discussion moderated by Angie Chandler, senior manager of program and educational initiatives for the Gantt Center.

“Exploring American Sacred Values” is part of CTI’s “Teachers as Scholars” educational series for the public that highlights collaborative work by professors and teachers in CTI seminars. This Feb. 21 event is supported by a grant from UNC Charlotte’s Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Fund and Johnson C. Smith University.

This event is free and open to the public. Guests are encouraged to REGISTER HERE.

CMS classroom teachers can apply to participate in the upcoming 2019 CTI seminars; March 10 is the deadline for applications.

January 2018 WBTV interview with Kendal Mobley

Teachers Invited to Educator Preview Day at Gantt Center Oct. 4

CTI will co-host Educator Preview Day on Thursday, Oct. 4, at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture. Educators at all grade levels from throughout the region are invited to attend free of charge from 5 to 8 p.m., for guided tours of the galleries and opportunities to learn about new seminars, workshops and curricular tools available through CTI and the Gantt Center. Current Gantt Center exhibitions include: Welcome to BrookhillQuestion Bridge: Black Males, and Hank Willis Thomas: What We Ask is Simple.

CMS teachers will have the unusual opportunity to sit in on a CTI seminar in progress (Exploring American Sacred Values led by Dr. Kendall Mobley, religion professor at Johnson C. Smith University) and also learn about upcoming CTI seminars for 2019.

Light refreshments will be provided. Teachers interested in attending Educator Preview Day should RSVP to

CTI is  pleased to partner with the Gantt Center for this preview program. One evening + Two great organizations with One important goal =  ENGAGING EDUCATORS to impact their students. Join us!

Also read about Evening for Educators on Oct. 9 at Discovery Place Education Studio

CTI Presents Evening for Educators Oct. 9 at Discovery Place Education Studio

CTI Fellows and teacher researchers will share new curricula they created for their students at CTI’s Evening for Educators event on Tuesday, October 9, 6:00-8:00 p.m., at Discovery Place Education Studio. Teachers and the general public are invited to learn about engaging new teaching ideas created by CMS teachers in their CTI seminars and summer research experiences — and to find out about new CTI seminars for CMS teachers in 2019!

Experience a night of fun and innovative curricula for grades preK-12 in math, science, social studies, the arts and more. Refreshments will be served. Hosted by CTI and Discovery Place Education Studio, it’s all free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Discovery Place Education Studio is located at 300 N. Poplar St. in uptown Charlotte. Register and get more info here.

Sept. 6 CTI Reception Features Teacher Researchers

2018 CTI Summer Research Experience for Teachers Reception & Poster Session

  • Thursday, Sept. 6, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

  • New Science Building, Johnson C. Smith University

CTI will showcase CMS teachers’ work on university research projects at a special event on Thursday, Sept. 6, 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Johnson C. Smith University’s New Science Building. This 2018 Summer Research Experience for Teachers Reception & Poster Session is free and open to the public. Guests are invited to learn about Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers’ summer research in the sciences and humanities with professors at JCSU, UNC Charlotte and Queens University of Charlotte.

Seventeen CMS teachers worked in eight different laboratories and research settings led by university professors. During the Sept. 6 reception, the SRET teachers, professors and graduate assistants will share poster presentations and discuss their unique collaborations and how this research experience translates to their classrooms and their students. Refreshments will be served.

University research faculty leading these collaborative summer research projects included:

  • UNC Charlotte — Dr. Susan Trammell, physics and optical science; David Wilson, computer science; and Janaka Lewis and Alan Rauch, English.
  • JCSU — Dr. Todd Coolbaugh and Dr. Tracy Fox-Brown, chemistry.
  • Queens University — Dr. Aaron Socha, chemistry; and Dr. Scott Weir, biology.

Details about all eight research experiences — spanning areas from cancer detection prototypes, biofuels, toxicology and nanomaterials to digital design, Black girlhood in literature, and Victorians and the natural world – are featured at 2018 SRET.

Doing Science by Inquiry-Based Learning

Geneva D. Bell, science, James Martin MS

Curriculum Unit (pdf)

read more »

Monuments and Memorials of the Marginalized “Off the Beaten Path”

Eboné Lockett, English, CATO Middle College HS

Curriculum Unit (pdf)

read more »

CMS Teachers Journey to Face Legacy of Racial Injustice

“Nothing can be changed until it is faced.” — James Baldwin

Twenty-six CMS teachers traveled far, together, to face America’s legacy of racial injustice revealed through the Equal Justice Initiative’s new Legacy Museum and national memorial to victims of lynching, in Montgomery, AL. Their transformative expedition April 26-28 to the opening ceremonies of The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, was supported by Charlotte Teachers Institute, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and the Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte.

The teachers joined in discussions about the book White Rage by Carol Anderson; visited the EJI memorial and museum and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Civil Rights Memorial; participated in a two-day Peace and Justice Summit; attended the Concert for Peace and Justice (featuring Common and Stevie Wonder); and also visited a lynching memorial in Georgia during their bus ride back to Charlotte.

The teachers’ trip, conceived and organized by former CTI Fellow and East Mecklenburg High History Teacher Larry Bosc, was an outgrowth of an equal justice workshop last summer with EJI, hosted by CTI and the Greenspon Center. Teachers at that workshop heard about plans for the new memorial and museum and were motivated to participate in the opening ceremonies, as well as develop new lessons for their students, based on EJI research and curricula.

EJI’s memorial features over 800 monumental structures, with each one representing a U.S. county where a racial terror lynching occurred, with victims’ names engraved on the columns. The memorial also includes a park hosting a field of identical monuments, with the intention that each one be claimed by their home county to be installed publicly. EJI notes: “Over time, the national memorial will serve as a report on which parts of the country have confronted the truth of this terror and which have not.”

Upon returning to Charlotte, the CMS teacher group committed to begin work to bring to Charlotte the memorial recognizing the two Mecklenburg County lynching victims: Willie McDaniel and Joseph McNeely.

CMS Teachers’ Reflections on their historic journey

Teachers Reflections on Their Historic Journey

 “The Memorial for Peace and Justice was, by far, the most emotional part of our visit. Like many in our group, I began by taking pictures of the lynching memorials of victims in North Carolina, but quickly found that there were so many that it became overwhelming. Getting through that memorial required multiple stops to collect myself. As Selma director Ava DuVerney said after her visit, ‘Every American that believes in justice and dignity must come here.’”

— Larry Bosc, retired history teacher, East Mecklenburg HS

 “‘The assumption of guilt and dangerousness has been assigned to African Americans.’  This was from The Legacy Museum. It made me weep because I have lived this. Not because of me, but through others’ assumptions of me because I am an African American.”

— DeNise Gerst, science teacher, Barringer Academic Center

“‘Ordinary people do extraordinary things,’  from Dr. Shirley Cherry. I’ve made this a mantra for one of my 4th grade girls! The following poem is from the Peace and Justice Memorial. I keep rereading this because it just calls to me. There is an absolute faith that we can and will all learn to speak the truth of what happened to African Americans in our country and what still happens every day.”

— Tracy Kennedy, 4th/5th grade teacher, E.E. Waddell Language Academy

“For the hanged and beaten.

For the shot, drowned and burned.

For the tortured, tormented and terrorized.

For those abandoned by the rule of law.

We will remember.

With hope because hopelessness is the enemy of justice.

With courage because peace requires bravery.

With persistence because justice is a constant struggle.

With faith because we shall overcome.”

26 CMS Teachers Journey to Montgomery, AL

Twenty-six teachers attended the Equal Justice Initiative’s opening ceremonies for the The Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The trip was conceived and organized by former East Mecklenburg High School Teacher Larry Bosc. The teachers included:

  • Auset Ari, Reading/Social Studies, Newell Elementary
  • Franchone Bey, English, West Charlotte High
  • Eli Davis, Special Education High School, Lincoln Heights Academy
  • Taylor Elkins, English Language Arts, Ranson Middle
  • Erika Flanagan, Civics/Economics, Independence High
  • Yasmin Forbes, African American Studies/American History II, West Mecklenburg High
  • DeNise Gerst, Science, Barringer Academic Center
  • Mayako Hamrick, Japanese, E.E. Waddell Language Academy
  • Stacey Jarvis, American History, East Mecklenburg High
  • Tracy Kennedy, English/Social Studies, EE Waddell Language Academy
  • Shanique Lee, English, North Mecklenburg High
  • Ebone Lockett, English Language Arts, CATO Middle College High
  • Marielle Matheus, PreK, Pre-K Department
  • Megan McGee, English Language Arts, McClintock Middle
  • Latonda Mitchell, English Language Arts/Social Studies, Mountain Island Lake Academy
  • Lynn Roach, World History, Harding University High
  • Lecia Shockley, 3rd Grade, Selwyn Elementary
  • Nicole Sparrow, AP Language & Composition/English IV, Hawthorne Academy of Health Sciences
  • Annette Teasdell, English, North Mecklenburg High
  • Roshan Varghese, American History II/World History, David W. Butler High
  • Robert Walton, EC General Curriculum, Merry Oaks International Academy
  • Torie Wheatley, English, North Mecklenburg High
  • May Winarski, Art, East Mecklenburg High
  • Kathryn Kisner, Social Studies, East Mecklenburg High
  • Paul Arnold, Social Studies, EE Waddell Language Academy
  • Kheiston Tilford, Math and Science, Newell Elementary

New JCSU Partnership Deepens, Diversifies CTI Work with CMS Teachers

In a move designed to deepen and diversify its engagement in professional development for teachers, Charlotte Teachers Institute (CTI) has formed a new educational partnership with Johnson C. Smith University to support classroom teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

“Our collaboration with Johnson C. Smith University will add exciting new ideas and expertise to our existing partnership with CMS and with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte,” said CTI Executive Director Scott Gartlan. “We will be able to welcome CMS teachers and UNC Charlotte professors to JCSU’s historic West End campus, building on our strong foundation of transforming teachers and students from pre-kindergarten through college by focusing on content knowledge, creativity, collaboration and leadership.”

Through CTI seminars led by UNC Charlotte and JCSU faculty, CMS teachers learn new content, work collaboratively with other teachers and develop new curricula for their students. Teachers serve as leaders in the institute, working collaboratively with university faculty. To date, more than 450 CMS teachers have participated in 68 CTI seminars, producing more than 700 original curriculum units and enriching more than 103,000 students.

“We join this partnership with enthusiasm and with an eagerness to learn and to share our strengths,” said JCSU President Clarence D. Armbrister. “As a historic urban university located in the heart of Charlotte, we are uniquely situated to work with the other partners to better the lives of CMS teachers and students and to contribute to the transformation of public education.”

CTI and its partners provide activities on active learning and leadership opportunities for teachers. Through intensive, seven-month seminars, led by faculty from UNC Charlotte and JCSU, CMS teachers learn new content, work collaboratively with other district teachers and develop curriculum units for their own classrooms. The Charlotte Teachers Institute is housed in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at UNC Charlotte. This fall, JCSU will lead seminars for the first time; CMS teachers are currently applying for spots in the seminars.

“Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools looks forward to continuing the collaborative spirit of our partnership with Charlotte Teachers Institute and UNC Charlotte in the framework of preparing and strengthening the opportunities for teachers,” said CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox. “The reach stretches even farther with the addition of Johnson C. Smith University, providing another level of access to quality preparation for our educators.”

CTI is founded on four pillars of strong professional development: content knowledge, creativity, leadership and collaboration. The new partnership will broaden the partnership’s capacity within each of the areas of emphasis.

“We are very pleased to welcome Johnson C. Smith University to this dynamic partnership with UNC Charlotte and CMS to support the Charlotte Teachers Institute,” said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. “CTI has served an important role in strengthening Charlotte’s public education system by providing teachers with high quality professional development opportunities.”

CTI’s focus on building social capital among teachers, faculty and graduate students addresses the community-based Leading on Opportunity initiative’s priorities to tackle the community’s upward mobility, stated Gartlan.

“Our work aims at strengthening Charlotte’s education system through early education and college and career readiness,” Gartlan said. “Adding JSCU as a collaborator brings important relationships and knowledge that can help move us forward in a strategic way.”

Photo: Margaret Kocherga, Ph.D. nanoscale science graduate student, UNC Charlotte; Phil Carver, eighth grade science teacher, James Martin Middle School; Tom Schmedake, associate professor of chemistry, UNC Charlotte; Geneva Bell, eighth grade science teacher, James Martin Middle School; participated in a CTI summer research experience.

Facts and Figures by Graphic Design

Antowanna Carpenter, CTE/Business, Butler HS

Curriculum Unit (pdf)

read more »

Cheers to Our 2017 CTI Evening for Educators Presenters!

Cheers to all our great presenters at CTI’s Evening for Educators event Oct. 17 at Discovery Place Education Studio. Presenters included current and former CTI Fellows from CTI Seminars, and CTI Fellows, Seminar Leaders and UNCC graduate assistants who participated in our Summer Research Experience for Teachers.
          Our guests — CMS teachers, CTI supporters and local community members — were very impressed with the excellent curriculum ideas provided, and got lots of great ideas to take back to their students and schools. Many thanks to these presenters for sharing their super engaging, innovative work!

CTI Fellows Curricula

  • Justine Busto, English as a Second Language teacher, East Mecklenburg High School: Using Graphic Novels and Picture Books in the High School and Middle School Classroom
  • Matthew Kelly, Spanish teacher, Independence High School:  Una imagen vale mil palabras: Using Hispanic Art with Novice Learners of Spanish
  • Jennifer Ladanyi, language arts teacher, Bailey Middle School:  Graphic Novels: Reading Critically from Texts to Images
  • Pam Shembo, fifth grade French immersion teacher, E.E. Waddell Academy:  Words of African Wisdom through Leuk the Hare in a French Immersion Classroom
  • Amy Thomas, math teacher, Reedy Creek Elementary School:  Number Awareness and Place Value
  • Janet Raybon, forensic science teacher, Myers Park High School:  The Rest of the Story: A Study of Death, Decomposition and Metamorphosis
  • Tyler Godensky, forensic science student, Myers Park High School:  Decomposition and the Life Cycle of the Blow Fly

CTI Summer Research Experience for Teachers (SRET)

Silver Nanoparticles for Enhanced Efficiency in Solar Applications

  • Wendy Potter, apparel and textile production teacher, Butler High School
  • Kari Rhoades, biomedical science teacher, Mallard Creek High School
  • Kathleen Dipple, graduate assistant in chemistry, UNC Charlotte
  • Meesha Kaushal, graduate assistant in chemistry, UNC Charlotte

How You Can Use Fluorescence and Light to Demonstrate Chemistry Concepts in Your Classroom

  • Phil Carver, science teacher, James Martin Middle School
  • Margaret Kocherga, graduate assistant in chemistry, UNC Charlotte
  • Dr. Tom Schmedake, associate professor of chemistry, UNC Charlotte

Examining the Effects of Freeze/Thaw Cycles on Porcine Skin Using Spectral Analysis

  • Curtis Overton, technology & design teacher, West Mecklenburg High School

SRET Graduate Student Research

Studying the effects of Peripheral Alkyl Chains on Exciton Diffusion Parameters in Porphyrin-PCBM Thin Films for OPV Applications

  • Meesha Kaushal, graduate assistant in chemistry, UNC Charlotte

Fabrication of Tunable Silver Nanorod Films for Solar Applications

  • Kathleen Dipple, graduate assistant in chemistry, UNC Charlotte