Trine student presents session at regional educators’ conference

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A student from Trine University’s Franks School of Education presented a session at a conference for educators from throughout the Midwest.

Jenna Niemeyer, a junior from Hogland, Indiana, studying English education at Trine University, spoke on “Changing Hearts through English Language-Arts: A Guide for SEL Integration” at the 33rd Midwest Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) Spring Conference, held April 5 in West Lafayette.

During her presentation, Niemeyer shared a website that she and Kennedy Brough, a junior from Fort Wayne, Indiana, also majoring in English education, created as a final project for their Culturally Responsive Teaching class in the fall semester. The website, “SEL Through ELA,” a resource incorporating socio-emotional learning (SEL) and English language arts (ELA) instruction, is online at selthroughela.weebly.com.

Niemeyer submitted the proposal to the conference after being made aware of the opportunity by Tony Kline, Ph.D., dean of the Franks School of Education.

 “The website provides overviews of socio-emotional learning — what it is, why kids need it, etc. It gives teachers books, strategies and multimedia for incorporating SEL into reading instruction, and strategies for incorporating SEL into writing instruction,” she said. “It also has a page devoted to multimedia for teachers and students to learn more; we created this for all types of learners — readers, visualists, audio.”

“The listed books specifically showcase characters from diverse backgrounds, religions, races, etc. so teachers are providing students with books in which they can see themselves and can become invested in the literature. They also can show students who may not be exposed to certain types of diversity what those characters may be experiencing, which helps build empathy, a key component of SEL.”

Niemeyer said she received very positive feedback from the approximately 30 people who attended.

“Several of the professors I spoke with from other universities want to use it for their classes as a resource, and the ATE Midwest conference wants to put it on their website as well,” she said.

“I really enjoyed this experience. It was very meaningful to have experts in the field of education review my website and say it was something that they wanted to use for their own undergraduate and graduate students.”

“As an undergraduate student, I never dreamed of presenting at a conference, much less one geared for higher education professors. Yet the conference's audience didn't discourage her ambitions,” said Kline. “Jenna is a dreamer and a doer, and this presentation is evidence of her unique abilities.”

Founded in 1920, the Association of Teacher Educators is dedicated to the improvement of teacher education for both school and campus-based teacher educators. ATE members represent nearly 1,300 teacher educators in colleges, universities, school districts and state education agencies within 41 regional and state affiliated units and US Territories.