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KU News Release

June 21, 2005
Contact: Maryemma Graham or Sarah Arbuthnot, KU English department, (785) 864-2557.

Seminar on teaching Toni Morrison novels selects teachers, graduate students

LAWRENCE -- Nineteen teachers and three graduate students selected from school districts nationwide will participate in a seminar July 9 through 14 in Cincinnati on teaching work by the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison. Maryemma Graham, University of Kansas professor of English, co-directs the project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The one-week seminar for "Language Matters II: Reading and Teaching Toni Morrison, the Cardozo Project Model" is being conducted at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. The seminar takes place a week before the fourth biennial Morrison conference in Cincinnati, which Morrison plans to attend.

Graham and Carolyn C. Denard, associate dean of Wells College in Aurora, N.Y., co-direct Language Matters II. The project is a special teaching initiative of the Toni Morrison Society and the KU Department of English.

The teachers were selected from in-service teacher workshops conducted earlier this year in Lawrence; Manassas, Va.; and Cincinnati. In addition to working with Morrison's eight novels and six children's books, the teachers will visit the home of Margaret Garner, the fugitive slave whose life became the subject of Morrison's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "Beloved." They also will attend the Cincinnati debut of an opera based on Garner's quest for freedom.

A team of scholars and master teachers will guide the teachers in preparing strategies to teach Morrison's novels and children's books. The Morrison scholars include Giselle Anatol, KU; Durthy Washington, U.S. Air Force Academy; Herman Beavers, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Keith Byerman, Indiana State University, Terre Haute; Marilyn Mobley McKenzie, George Mason University; and Angelyn Mitchell, Georgetown University.

The seminars evolved from Washington, D.C., where Cardozo High School teacher Frazier O'Leary proposed that the entire school of 500 students read Morrison's "The Bluest Eye." Graham directed the yearlong project, providing in-service training for teachers and producing dramatic results. Some students read their first novel, for example. Each received a copy of the book and none lost the book.

Graham said the Cardozo project demonstrated that the connection between teaching and learning is critical. "Students will read if their teachers can give skilled presentations on subject matter that brings their intellectual passions to life," Graham said.

Morrison is the Robert F. Goheen professor in the Council of Humanities at Princeton University in New Jersey. Her major awards include the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for "Beloved" and the 1993 Nobel Prize in literature for her body of work. Born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, in 1931, Morrison earned degrees at Howard and Cornell universities.

Participants are listed by the schools they represent and their roles:

DOUGLAS COUNTY
From Lawrence
Giselle Anatol, KU assistant professor of English, scholar
Maryemma Graham, KU professor of English, Language Matters II co-director and president of the Toni Morrison Society
Kim Grinnell and Lori Stussie, Lawrence Alternative High School, teacher
Art Sloan, Lawrence High School, teacher
Gladys Sanders, retired teacher, Language Matters II project evaluator
Vicki Tucker, West Junior High School, teacher
Doretha Williams, KU graduate student, Language Matters II staff

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Overland Park
Joy Bunch, Shawnee Mission West High School, teacher

REPUBLIC COUNTY
From Belleville
Sarah Arbuthnot, KU graduate student in English, Language Matters II project coordinator. She is the daughter of Bob and Susan Arbuthnot.

COLORADO
From Colorado Springs
Durthy Washington, U.S. Air Force Academy, scholarMORE

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
From Washington
Anne Cohen, retired (Cardozo High School), master teacher
Angelyn Mitchell, Georgetown University, scholar

GEORGIA
From Athens and New York City
Jessie Dunbar, New York City, University of Georgia graduate student

From Augusta
Janaka Bowman, Northwestern University, graduate student

From Decatur
Carolyn C. Denard, Georgia State University, Language Matters II co-director and founder of the Toni Morrison Society

From Duluth
Nicole Smith, Duluth High School, teacher

ILLINOIS
From Highland Park
Paul Lusson and Faisal Mohyuddin, Highland Park High School, teachers

INDIANA
From Terre Haute
Keith Byerman, Indiana State University, scholar

KENTUCKY
From Highland Heights
Kristine Yohe, Northern Kentucky University, fourth biennial Toni Morrison Society Conference director

From Fort Thomas
Lisa Birkley, Highlands High School, teacher

LOUISIANA
From Baton Rouge and Aurora, N.Y.
Ethel King-McKenzie. See New York.

MARYLAND
From Baltimore
Ruth Evans, Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development, education consultant

From Riverdale
Yvonne Brown, Parkdale High School, Riverdale, teacher

From Silver Spring
Tonya Wells, John F. Kennedy High School, teacher

From Upper Marlboro
Kenyatta Dorey Graves, Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development, education consultant

NEW YORK
From Aurora and from Baton Rouge, La.
Ethel King-McKenzie, Wells College and from Baton Rouge, La., teacher

From New York City
Jessie Dunbar, University of Georgia, Athens, graduate student
Emel Topbas, Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, teacher

NORTH CAROLINA
From Chapel Hill
Marjorie Lancaster, East Chapel Hill High School, teacher

OHIO
From Cincinnati
Dean Woodring Blase, Clark Montessori School, teacher
Beth Morgan and Ann Marie Pirchner, School for Creative and Performing Arts, teachers
Amanda Schear, Withrow University High School, teacher

OKLAHOMA
From Oklahoma City
Mikeiya Morrow, University of Central Oklahoma, graduate student

OREGON
From Halsey
Emily Robbins, Central Linn High School, teacher (relocating to begin graduate school at KU this fall)

PENNSYLVANIA
From Philadelphia
Herman Beavers, University of Pennsylvania, scholar

VIRGINIA
From Chantilly and Manassas
Tina Grayson, Osbourn Park High School in Manassas, master teacher

From Fairfax
Marilyn Mobley McKenzie, George Mason University, scholar

From Woodbridge and Manassas
Brandy Talley, Osbourn Park High School in Manassas, master teacher

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