Piggott Teachers Attend AAAE Conference

Thursday, August 30, 2018
PHS teachers Jon Wellman and Karen Coomer at the AAAE conference.
courtesy photo

Over the summer, Piggott High School Alternative Education teacher Jon Wellman and math teacher Karen Coomer attended the 19th annual Arkansas Association of Alternative Educators (AAAE) conference on alternative education, held in Rogers, Ark.

Wellman's presentation, titled “Bring Life To The Classroom,” focused on projects that will aid the classroom in coming to life. These projects include a garden tower, an incubator, a chicken coop, a greenhouse, painting pumpkins, sign making and living gardens. The lessons incorporate English, Math, Science, Social Studies, life skills, social skills, technology skills and communication skills. These projects can involve the whole school, with AE students being the leaders. Finally, the most important part of the presentation explained how to obtain funding, resources and networking for different projects where the AE student is successful. Coomer assisted Wellman in the presentation.

Wellman explained that the alternative education students took notes on the garden tower throughout the school year. The students were then instructed to create a PowerPoint in which they used to display information regarding how the plants were growing. As a result, Wellman was able to use this PowerPoint as part of the presentation regarding projects that help students in the alternative education classroom.

Coomer explained that a quote in the conference's handbook spoke to her. “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” Coomer explains that, to her, it sums up the alternative education program. She believes students have their own special talents and traits that make them unique, and are typically expected to fit in with what is declared as “normal.” She indicated she believes alternative education students, as well as other students, are trying to display their unconventional talents in a conventional system. Wellman agreed, and both stated how proud they were of all of the students.

In addition, Wellman and Coomer won their election to the Arkansas Association of Alternative Educators (AAAE) board at the conference. This will mark Wellman's fifth two-year term, and he is beginning his ninth year on the board this semester. Coomer is beginning her second two-year term, beginning her third year on the board this semester. Wellman is reporter on the AAAE board, while Coomer is the regional representative coordinator.

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