Author Archives: Robin Mara

CTI Welcomes Outstanding 2020 Fellows

CTI welcomed 104 outstanding and irrepressible Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers to our new cohort of 2020 CTI Fellows this Spring (see the full list of Fellows here). These 104 Fellows represent 55 different CMS schools, average 11.3 years of teaching experience, and teach 12,418 students in grades PreK-12.

Pressing on in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the committed support of CTI’s educational partners and teacher leadership, CTI is using new formats to host our eight seminars. Each seminar group includes one university professor and 13 teachers representing grades PreK-12 who collaborate together long-term, focusing on a particular topic from April through November.

The university faculty serving as this year’s Seminar Leaders include five professors from UNC Charlotte and two from Johnson C. Smith University, with seminars center on these topics:

Illuminate Yourself! The Science of Glow seminar’s Zoom meeting May 14

Due to COVID-19, seminars have been conducted virtually this Spring with Seminar Leaders and Fellows eager to collaborate online and begin their energizing topic explorations and curriculum development together — even after their already full days of adapting to online teaching with their own students. We are inspired by their dedication to teaching, especially as they go above and beyond to design new approaches to support and expand their students’ learning!

The Spring seminar schedule included an orientation meeting, three seminar meetings, campus connection events at both JCSU and UNCC, as well as organizational meetings and informal dinner gatherings — all held virtually. Next up is the Prospectus Writing and Research Zoom Jam on Saturday, May 30, where Fellows can discuss their budding curriculum ideas and get research support from JCSU and UNCC librarians.

Please join us in congratulating and celebrating these exceptional teachers and their exceptional seminar leaders!

Urban Waterways: Problems & Opportunities seminar’s Zoom meeting May 14
African American Poetry and the Idea of Citizenship seminar’s GoogleMeet meeting May 14

CTI Hosts “Just Mercy” Movie Screening & Follow-Up Conversation for CMS Teachers

As part of our commitment to racial equity and social justice, CTI co-hosted a screening of Just Mercy, the new film based on the powerful memoir by Equal Justice Initiative Founder Bryan Stevenson, starring Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson and Jamie Foxx. Former CTI Fellow Larry Bosc organized the event for 60 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers at the Cinemark Bistro on Jan. 10, the movie’s opening date in Charlotte.

CTI plans to host a follow-up conversation about the film, as well as the book and the Equal Justice Initiative’s work, on Saturday, Feb. 8. Contact CTI Director Scott Gartlan at for more information.

Read more about CTI’s educational programs related to the Equal Justice Initiative:

CTI Celebrates 2019 Fellows and Their New Curricula

See their Engaging New Curricula Published on the CTI Website

CTI celebrated its 2019 Fellows’ achievements during the Fellows’ Finale Celebration at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in December. 88 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers were recognized as Fellows for successfully completing CTI seminars and designing engaging new curricula for their students.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston welcomed Fellows, Leaders and guests to Fellows’ Finale, saying: “I want to thank CTI for the tremendous partnership. As I spoke with our teachers this evening one thing was extremely clear to me: how much you all love this program. I heard, ‘This program helps me build my capacity,’ and ‘It allows me to strengthen my profession so that ultimately our children are the beneficiaries of this work.’”

In an anonymous survey of all 88 Fellows, 100% indicated they had gained knowledge and skills to positively impact their teaching. Fellows’ curriculum units are posted on the CTI website where they can be accessed by other teachers worldwide.

CTI Director Scott Gartlan applauded Fellows at the Finale event saying, “Together, as 88 Fellows, you have taught 12,883 PreK-12 students in 50 CMS schools this year. Together, you have amassed a total of 2,253 hours in eight, university professor-led seminars over the course of seven months. Together, you embody the dedication and commitment to teaching and learning we expect of our students and colleagues.”

The 2019 CTI Fellows represent grade levels preK-12, and a wide range of subjects from language arts, world history, foreign languages and art, to math, sciences, technology, and more.

Each Fellow who completed all program requirements received three continuing education units and a $1,500 stipend.

CTI presents eight, concurrent seminars each year, running April to December. CTI Fellows have created over 600 curriculum units since the program’s inception in 2009.

See the full list of 2019 CTI Fellows and their seminars.

View Fellows’ Finale photos.

Mi Cuidad Latina: Building Bridges to Local Language Communities in the World Languages Classroom

By Matthew Kelly, Spanish teacher, Independence High School
2018 CTI Fellow in the Insights to Latino Communities seminar

In my CTI seminar on Latino Communities I wrote a curriculum unit focused on building bridges between classroom communities of Spanish learners and Latino school and neighborhood communities of Spanish speakers. A variety of building bridges activities were incorporated into this unit of study.

Students in my Spanish language classes collaborated with Latino students at my school who had participated in quinceañera celebrations. Our Latin students got out their dresses and suits and staged a recreation of a quinceañera at the mall to explain their traditions to an audience of mostly non-Spanish speakers.

An Afro-Colombian poet from our community, Kurma Murrain, came to speak with students at our school. She shared her experiences navigating dual identities as an Afro-Latina in Colombia and the United States.

Last Spring, as part of our study of the Mexican muralist movement, we looked at murals in our own community. We took a trip to Camp North End to learn about the role of public art in urban development and urban renewal. We invited two muralists, John Hairston Jr. and Rosalía Torres-Weiner to come share their experience.

Our intern from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Mark Sealy, had experience in Chile as a dance instructor as well as having worked in business consulting and as a wilderness guide. He taught our students how to dance salsa! Mark worked with us throughout the semester.

I’m so grateful to Charlotte Teachers Institute for an implementation grant that allowed us to get a bus for our school field trip to Camp North End, and for helping connect me with UNCC’s Modern Languages internship program to provide interns in my classroom.

Read Matt’s curriculum unit: Mi ciudad latina: Building Bridges to Local Language Communities in the World Languages Classroom

CTI Presents 2019 Evening for Educators Oct. 8 at Discovery Place Education Studio

CTI Fellows and teacher researchers will share new curricula they created for their students at CTI’s 2019 Evening for Educators event on Tuesday, October 8, 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 2020!

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 HERE.

Examining the Role of University Research Labs in Secondary Teacher Education (SRET 2019)

Research Summary Poster


  • Erika Williams, Career & Technical Education Teacher, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology
  • Hannah Phykitt, Student, Biochemistry Queens University of Charlotte
  • Aaron Socha, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science and Chemistry, Queens University of Charlotte

Project Focus

Summer research at the Queens Chemistry lab will be focused on using plants as replacements for petroleum for the production of chemicals. Specifically we use lignin, a polymer found in the cell walls of all plants to make ionic liquids, solvents with tunable properties for various renewable energy applications. Interested teachers will help to synthesize, purify and analyze molecules. The overall goal is to engineer “closed-loop” systems, such as the use of ligninderived ionic liquids for the production of fermentable sugars (e.g. glucose and xylose).

Research Abstract

Teachers spend hours in professional development, supposedly designed to improve teaching in the classroom, but most professional development lacks a mechanism that can be used to bring relevance into the classroom.  Moreover, the existing curriculum lacks material that motivates students to understand the “real-world” importance of science.  To build a repertoire of interesting lesson plans, teachers must venture outside the classroom. For science teachers, first-hand laboratory research experience is a potential source of professional knowledge that can translated to classroom enrichment. Working in an academic research lab, and spending time with the lab’s personnel gives an insight into the ups and downs of the scientific world. Additionally, through learning and practicing research techniques such as experimental design, solution preparation and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, it is envisioned that my ability to communicate science to my students will be improved. By reading, understanding and presenting novel research in the field of biomaterials, I am also able to pique the interest of my students. Specifically, the use of ionic liquids to produce biofuels from switchgrass is relevant to Unit 4 of my Environmental Sustainability course. To collect information, I have conducted one on one meetings with the PI, attended weekly lab group meetings and interviewed a postdoctoral researcher, one high school student, and 4 undergraduate  students working in the Queens University Chemistry Lab in Summer 2019.  The ultimate goal of my interviews are to extract information from researchers that would be interesting to present to my students to encourage participation in STEM disciplines.

The Effect of CNF on Storm Water Remediation (SRET 2019)

Research Summary Poster


  • Juanita Purdy, Science Teacher, J.M. Alexander Middle School
  • Maya Foxworth, Krystal Wilson, Chyna Bly and Carrie Lowe, JCSU Student Researchers
  • Todd Coolbaugh, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Chemistry, Johnson C. Smith University
  • Tracy Brown, Ph. D, Assistant Professor, Chemistry, Johnson C. Smith University

Project Focus

Stormwater runoff is a serious pollution concern at construction sites and is an emerging concern in urban areas with large coverages of hard surfaces such as roads and parking lots. In both cases one of the most detrimental, and difficult to control, environmental problems associated with stormwater runoff are colloidal suspensions, which consist of micro- to nanometer sized organic and inorganic particles — think dust and tiny oil drops. These particles usually bear surface charges which prevent them from sticking together and sinking in catchment basins. If these small particles are swept into waterways they result in increased turbidity, that is, cloudiness, a key water quality indicator. Nearly all of Charlotte’s waterways are characterized by high turbidity. One solution to this problem, widely adopted by the construction industry, including NCDOT, is to add flocculants to storm water catchments. “Flocculation is the process where multiple particles are bridged together to form flocs or flakes.” Flocculants are typically polymers (polyanions) that neutralize surface charge and cross-link the particles leading to coagulation and settling. The most commonly used polymers, currently, are polyacrylamide derivative. The use of polymers is not without some controversy. The monomeric precursors of both of these polymers are considered to be known carcinogens but there is no evidence the polymers are themselves carcinogenic. However concerns about small amounts of unreacted monomers and possible degradation products raises some concerns. A range of laboratory techniques, including Raman spectroscopy, as well as batch studies (jar studies) will be carried out with both artificial and grab samples of stormwater to investigate the use of cellulose nanofibrils as environmentally safe flocculating agents. Participants will also be introduced to pH, conductivity and turbidity measurements and will become more familiar with environmental science, nanotechnology and polymer science.

Research Abstract

Water Pollution is a major problem that is affecting urban areas environments and human health.  One area of water pollution that is of a concern to Charlotte and other major development areas of North Carolina is storm water runoff.  Storm water runoff can occur in areas that have large surface areas such as construction sites, farm land or industry sites.  One problem associated with this runoff is colloidal suspensions such as dust particles and tiny oil drops which contain surfaces charges and prevents them from bonding together (flocculation).  These particles remain in the water and increase turbidity, (water cloudiness) a key indicator of water quality.

This research examined TEMPO oxidized CNF (Cellulose Nanofibrils) that were provided by Forest Product Laboratory of the US Department of Agriculture.  This product offers a sustainable solution for wastewater treatment due to being renewable and biodegradable. It is hypothesized these ionic nanoparticles have enough flexibility to allow sediments of wastewater to be settled out of the water without adding harsh or carcinogenic chemicals.

The soil samples that were collected from various locations were added to deionized water and subjected to magnetic stirring to simulate storm water runoff. The effects of CNF concentration, pH and setting time were investigated.  From the samples, substantial sedimentation was observed and colloidal suspensions were formed.  In addition, initial observations indicate that CNF addition causes some flocculation.  The efficiency of flocculation increased with an increase of pH. At longer settling times, a substantial increase in turbidity was noted as well as the formation of stable colloids. CNF has not at this time affected turbidity in stable colloids which may suggest a possible negative charge of the colloidal particles.  Additional research is needed for this determination.

Examining the Rheological Properties of 3-D Fiber Infused Gels with Silver Nanoparticles (SRET 2019)

Research Summary Poster


  • Tiara Davis, Science Teacher, Sedgefield Middle School
  • Za’qoya Richardson, JCSU Student Researcher
  • Tracy Brown, Ph. D, Assistant Professor, Chemistry, Johnson C. Smith University
  • Todd Coolbaugh, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Chemistry, Johnson C. Smith University

Research Abstract

The synthesis of silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) can yield particles ranging in size from 1 to100 nm. Silver NPs have major applications in the medical field including diagnostic and antimicrobial properties. One of the drawbacks to making silver NPs is the toxicity associated with the chemicals used to make them, including chemical reducing agents such as trisodium citrate or sodium borohydride. Herein, we will discuss a green method through photo catalytic catalysis synthesis of formulating cellulose Nano fiber gels embedded with silver Ag NPs. Using the bottom up method, materials containing desired precursors mixed in a control setting, colloidal solutions of cellulose Nano fibers with increasing amounts of silver nitrate were used to prepare 3-D fiber infused gels with silver Ag NPs. Using viscosity measurements, the rheological properties of viscosity (η), storage (Gʹ) and loss moduli (Gʺ) provided critical, yet insightful information of the 3-D fiber infused gel structure with Ag NPs, when stress and strain are applied.

MAKERSPACE: Making for STEM Learning and Engagement (SRET 2019)

Research Summary Poster


  • Nakisha Cornelius, Pre-K Teacher, Ashley Park School
  • LaKeesha Henderson, Media Coordinator, Ashley Park School
  • Johanna Okerland, PhD Student, UNC Charlotte
  • David Wilson, Professor, Computing and Informatics, UNC Charlotte

Project Focus

In this project, teachers will be taught basic principles of digital design and fabrication through hands-on lab activities in the college Makerspace (e.g., 2D/3D modeling, 3D printing, laser cutting, manipulatives, basic electronics, Arduino/Raspberry Pi). These beginning hands-on lab activities are based on existing training and workshop materials currently used in the Makerspace. Teachers will work with Dr. David Wilson and a graduate student in computer science to conduct research on STEM learning within academic Makerspaces, including development and evaluation of new activities and studying the relationship between informal and formal learning within such environments. As part of the research, teachers will focus on a particular STEM learning topic or challenge problem and develop novel Making activities to ground the fundamental STEM concepts and related design thinking. The research will involve piloting the activities and user study evaluation with student users of the Makerspace. Expected outcomes are: (1) an understanding of academic makerspaces, and how such a space may be developed or used as a teaching resource in the teacher’s own institution; (2) a new set of Making activities that can be used for STEM learning and engagement in the college Makerspace as well as brought back to the teacher’s classroom; (3) research results that may be submitted for publication.

Research Abstract

Pre-Kindergarten is the foundation of formal education. A necessary introduction to the classroom setting, it sets young scholars on a 13 year journey to success. In certain definitions of “Makerspace,” the Pre-K classroom could be considered a maker space in itself. Children are always encouraged to “tinker” and construct things with little to no direction; in order to build confidence and gain the necessary skills to grow and meet required curriculum goals. Even with the environment of encouraging students to enhance their cognitive, socio-emotional and language skills, there are certain barriers that must be assessed on a pre-K level.

In addition to meeting curriculum requirements, successfully engaging 3D modeling and printing at the pre-K level should spark an interest in using 3D printers and other makerspace items and encourage a young generation of computational thinkers. Strategically implementing maker spaces in order to enhance students’ cognitive and physical skills can be measured by students achieving their learning objectives. An example of a physical objective of pre K students is proficient use of fingers and hands and refined wrist and finger movements. During the lesson, the students will be given opportunities to use their fingers and hands in all steps of the 3D printing process. A cognitive goal for the students is to persist and to be able to plan and pursue a variety of appropriately challenging tasks while a language goal for the students is to follow two-step directions. Throughout the 3D modeling and printing process the students will work on following multiple step directions from the facilitator helping break developmental barriers of teaching pre-K students. An extent of these barriers, which can be fine motor skills such as using a computer mouse or loading filament into a 3D printer, will be modified by using an iPad for the Tinkercad computer program and all 3D printing processes will be obtained using the help of the teacher or facilitator.

Temperature Sensor Measurement (SRET 2019)

Research Summary Poster


  • Robert Jackson, Principles of Engineering Teacher, Olympic High School
  • Dalton Cooper. Mathematics & AP Statistics Teacher, West Charlotte High School
  • Ana Hizaramirez Andrade, PhD Student, UNC Charlotte
  • Konstantinos Falaggis, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science, UNCC

Project Focus

Freeform Optics are expected to revolutionize an entire field of optics. It is predicted, that they will soon replace 80% of all manufactured optics – ranging from reading glasses and side mirrors of cars to optical microscopes and optical satellite components. However, the most significant impediments to progress is the optical testing of such surfaces. Unlike regular optics, the challenge in Freeform Optics is their complex shaped surface with no axis symmetry. During the summer project, Fellows will work with Kosta Falaggis and his graduate students to design a Deflectometry based precision metrology system that consists of an LCD display and a camera. This simple optical setup provides nanometer level accuracy and challenges current state of the art instruments. Notably, deflectometry is related to techniques used in 3D scanners. This research experience is particularly relevant for teachers, who would like to develop cross-disciplinary teaching modules for a range of subjects as e.g. “metrology and 3D scanners”, “ray optics”, “camera calibration and image rectification with application to cameras, webcams and mobile phones”, “electronic circuits”, or “simple programming projects”.

Research Abstract

The initial objective of the study is to investigate the temperature variances realized within a temperature-controlled environment. The experimental design of the study is using a methodology such that sixteen to twenty-five (16-25) sensors instinctive to temperature measurement configured equidistant from each other in a square pattern will quantify actual data points as voltages in real-time, specific to predetermined measured positions. The captured data samples are converted to a digital format to be stored for analysis and transfer for future comparison. 

Additionally, the Analog to Digital Conversion (ADC) functionality is provisioned with the use of an open sourced electronics platform. Where a constructed single circuit board, microcontroller (IC; Integrated Circuit) comprised of thermistors (sensor), hardware and software capable of sampling, and reading the voltage(s) input, is used for converting the sample into an output. The circuit board will receive its instructions by means of the microcontroller according to the prescribed programming language, wiring configuration, and the processor parameters.

In its entirety, the collected analyzed data generated from this study will support an application to be used for temperature measurement in a camera system for metrology with respect to free form optics arrangement.

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

CTI invited 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 featured 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 began 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 started at 6:30 p.m., featuring mini-presentations by Schmedake and five teachers on a range of topics, followed by a panel discussion. 

Schmedake discussed the art and chemistry of light in the context of his own research and the experience of leading a recent seminar with teachers. The Fellows’ mini-presentations examined: 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 shared 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.

Beth Kerr shares her perspective with CMS Chief Academic Officer Brian Kingsley


The Art & Chemistry of Light — Tom Schmedake
The Brightside of Energy Consumption — Michelle Faggert
My Many Colored Days — Elizabeth Kerr
Natural Light, Artificial Light, and Pollution — Zach Sanford
Do You See What I See? The Use of Light in Forensic Science — Jackie Smith
Seeing Art-Making in a New Light: Cyanotype Printing — Diane Strickland
Lights, Color, Action — Teresa Strohl
Chemistry Across the Spectrum — Josh Trujillo
Personifying Light: The Life and Times of Roy G. Biv — Erika Williams


Reception guests also viewed 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 was 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 hosted Exploring American Sacred Values, a special event for the public providing a window into penetrating learning in a CTI seminar for teachers, on Thursday, Feb. 21, at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture, as part of CTI’s Teachers As Scholars series.

The event was based on the 2018 CTI seminar of the same name, led by Kendall Mobley, religion professor at Johnson C. Smith University, with 10 CTI Seminar Fellows (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers). Mobley and the teachers participated in the February event as program speakers and exhibit presenters.

Mobley provided a retrospective of the seminar, focusing on 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. Four Fellows also spoke about curricula they developed in the seminar, examining 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:

  • Recognizing the Wilson Way Values in the American Revolution, Pia Townes, 8th Grade Social Studies, Wilson STEM Academy
  • At What Cost? Native American Children and Boarding Schools of the 19th and 20th Centuries, Tracy Kennedy, 4th/5th Grades, E.E. Waddell Language Academy
  • Harmony at the Key: Conversations on the Court, Deborah Brown, English, Zebulon Vance High School
  • Intersection of African-Americans, Civil Religion and Media Influence, Franchone Bey, English and Film, West Charlotte High School

The presentations were followed by a panel discussion moderated by Angie Chandler, senior manager of program and educational initiatives for the Gantt Center.

All 10 Seminar Fellows also shared curriculum exhibits related to American values that the teachers targeted to address with students. Topics included: 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.

“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 was supported by a grant from UNC Charlotte’s Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Fund and Johnson C. Smith University.

CMS classroom teachers can apply to participate in the upcoming 2020 CTI seminars; March 8 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