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MAT Interns Hone their Skills
at AFLTA Foreign Language Festival.

Scorpio Sphinx Development  2-18-13

Six current Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) interns and four pre-MAT students from the University of Arkansas (UA) devoted the first Saturday of February to honing their professional skills as foreign language educators by volunteering at the Arkansas Foreign Language Teachers Association’s (AFLTA) District III Festival, a competition for middle and secondary students from the northwestern corner of the state. Rogers Heritage High School hosted the event.
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Many Languages: One United Voice.
Presenting at ACTFL's Conference
In the Historic City of Brotherly Love.

Scorpio Sphinx Heritage Language and Common Core  11-14-12

The City of Brotherly Love plays host to the 2012 American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages’ annual conference and world language expo. This year’s theme, Many Languages: One United Voice, fits the setting well. The city of Philadelphia is renowned in American history for bringing together many disparate voices to guide a young nation along its revolutionary path toward unity and independence.
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Arkansas Language Teachers
Meet to Further Their Knowledge
Of Common Core State Standards.

Scorpio Sphinx Connect and Align  6-7-12

Fifty foreign language teachers from across Arkansas gathered at Har-Ber High School in Springdale on June 5 for a professional development workshop on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Sponsored by District III of the Arkansas Foreign Language Teachers Association, the workshop provided six Professional Development hours for teachers and future teachers in English as a Second Language (ESL), French , German, and Spanish.
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Spanish Language Poetry Slam
Inspires Presentation at Conference.

Scorpio Sphinx Collaboration  11-15-11

This week I will be traveling with one of my colleagues, Jessica Fay Sliger, to the annual conference of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in Denver, Colorado. This year's theme, "Empowering Language Educators Through Collaboration," aligns perfectly with the collaborative project Jessica and I created last year for native speakers of Spanish in the Rogers, Arkansas, School District.
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Sustainability and Identity:
Celebrating American Indian Heritage

Scorpio Sphinx Symposium  11-2-11

November is American Indian Heritage Month in the United States. This is my fifth year to be involved in organizing and promoting events in honor of the annual occasion on our campus, the University of Arkansas. November 2011 also marks the 18th anniversary of the founding of the Native American Symposium.
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Happy Birthday Arkansas!

Scorpio Sphinx Statehood Day  6-27-11

My home state of Arkansas is celebrating its 175th year of statehood this year. On June 15, 1836, Arkansas became the 25th state in the Union. More than likely, I would have simply acknowledged this momentous date by reading about the special events and celebrations in our state paper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, but an E-mail message to join the birthday party caught my attention with an invitation I couldn't refuse.
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Three Reflections on a Theme:
I Remember My Favorite Teacher.

Scorpio Sphinx Inspiration  1-25-11

Last October I wrote an essay based on the theme “Re-igniting the Passion and Purpose of Teaching.” My intention was to write about the ATE summer conference, but in the writing, my thoughts strayed to a single high school teacher whose passion and purpose for teaching influenced me to pursue a career in education. Several colleagues responded to the essay with their own remembrances of favorite teachers. Sharing their reflections is the purpose of this article.
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Our Favorite Teachers Were Forged
In the Crucible of Passion and Purpose.

Scorpio Sphinx Lineage  10-18-10

Think back to your favorite teachers. What do you remember about them? Was it how they looked and carried themselves? What they taught? Or how they treated you? Most likely, your answer relates to the last question.
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Choctaw Nation Offers Language,
Culture Course at University of Arkansas.

Scorpio Sphinx Halito!  8-24-10

University of Arkansas students have a unique opportunity to expand their knowledge of one of our neighboring nations this fall. Just across the border, the southwestern Arkansas border, you’ll find one of the many sovereign nations within the United States — the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The opportunity? One of the nation’s leading educators, Professor Curtis Billy, is teaching a Choctaw language course for UA credit.
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How to Be "Smart" to the Core
(Foreign Language not Necessary).

Scorpio Sphinx Humanities  6-3-10

No need to learn a foreign language in Arkansas schools: You are “smart” without one. Arkansas education is in the news again . . . and again, but this time the news “cuts to the core” of academic excellence at the University of Arkansas Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences on the Fayetteville campus.
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Pride, Honor, Culture, Unity:
Native America at the University.

Scorpio Sphinx FNL, Symposium  2-24-10

Friday Night Live and the Native American Symposium give pause to reflect on the presence and influence of Native Americans on the university campus. In her latest contribution to Planet Gnosis, Freddie Bowles reports on the hosting of Friday Night Live by the Native American Student Association. She also reflects on last November's Native American Symposium, a week-long series of meetings and programs about politics, culture, economics, and common ground pertaining to the first peoples of America.
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Language and Culture by the Sea.

Scorpio Sphinx ACTFL  11-29-09

How quickly one week slides into the next. Here it is the last day of Thanksgiving holiday and last week’s conference is wrapped up and tied with a bow. I sit amidst familiar surroundings in the chill overcast Arkansas clime when, just a few days ago, I was walking along the San Diego harbor in temperate sunny weather. In a quantum moment, or in a New York minute as we say down south, the mind and body adjust to traveling over a thousand miles through two time zones.
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The Power of Many Voices.

Scorpio Sphinx ACTFL  11-19-09

It’s about both. The journey and the destination. Twenty-first century air travel has become perfunctory, intrusive, and extremely controlled. We are all viewed as potential bad guys by the keepers of the gate. If you’re too young to have experienced the pleasure of flying in the previous century, then you won’t bemoan the loss of something you never had....
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Mango and Salsa.

Scorpio Sphinx ARKTESOL  10-14-09

’Tis the season for conferences. Last month’s report, The Miss Martha Mystery Assessment, focused on the Arkansas Association of Teacher Educators conference. This month’s involves another state organization, the Arkansas Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, whose “members are professionals who work to serve our international neighbors in Arkansas through teaching and also promoting mutual understanding,” according to the ARKTESOL website.
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The Miss Martha Mystery Assessment.

Scorpio Sphinx Excellence  9-24-09

Martha Sandven, 2009 graduate of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program at the University of Arkansas, created the Miss Martha Mystery assessment activity during her internship year of 2008-2009. Based on the four domains of the Pathwise Classroom Observation System, the activity expands the assessment opportunity for interns by including the most important stakeholders in the classroom, the students.
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Owning the Future through ACTION.

Scorpio Sphinx ATE Recap  8-5-09

Let the conference begin! Enough of the nuts and bolts of organizing a conference. It’s time to talk about the conference itself. The Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) holds two conferences each year, one in February and one in August. Each is built around a theme chosen by the president. ATE’s current president, Dr. Annette Digby of Lincoln University, chose for her theme the title, “Owning the Future through ACTION: An Inclusive Vision for Teacher Education.”
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You Never Know....  You Might Look Up And Find a Chunk of the Blarney Stone.

Scorpio Sphinx ATE: Days 2 & 3  8-3-09

Another late evening in Reno. I’ve managed to break away from the activity for a moment’s reflection about the inner workings of the conference. Those of us who are on planning committees arrive one, two, or even three days prior to the opening session. Each ATE conference has two conference co-chairs with four sub-committees: program, local arrangements, special events, and publicity....
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Finding New Vistas and Good Friends
Amid the Bright Neon Promise of Reno.

Scorpio Sphinx ATE: Day One  7-31-09

Waking up in an unexplored city brings a feeling of anticipation for the intrepid traveler. What vistas will lure us to venture into the unknown? What characters wait on the crossroads to tell their stories? The senses are alert, the mind and spirit attuned to optimal power as we step out of familiar settings to greet an unexplored new place....
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Learning Flourishes when Pedagogy
Merges with Content Knowledge.

Scorpio Sphinx PCK  7-30-09

Does expertise in one’s content area guarantee that a teacher can effectively teach that content to students? Prior to the mid-1980s, teacher educators and other educational professionals most likely would have answered, “Yes.” It was thought then that content knowledge was sufficient for effective teaching. Likewise, if a teacher did not know the content of a particular subject, then it followed that the teacher could not teach the subject effectively. I also believed this. It wasn’t until I was a student in Dr. Mike Wavering’s “PCK” doctoral course that I became convinced that content knowledge was not enough to teach for learning.....
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Reading with the Razorbacks.

Scorpio Sphinx Literacy Alive!  4-27-09

Arkansas folks love their Razorbacks. We call the hogs — whooo, pig soooie — wear Razorback Red, and stick Razorback paraphernalia on our cars, vans, and windows. We decorate yards, offices, and houses with Big Red icons and regalia. Fans wear hog hats and piggy noses to the ball games and dress their kids in Razorback cheerleading outfits, sweatshirts, and blazers. So, it was no surprise when over 60 little Razorback readers appeared at the Fayetteville Library....
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MAT Poetic Profiles of Excellence.

Scorpio Sphinx Standards  1-14-09

The term “accountability” has entered educational jargon and appears throughout academic literature as well as in public discussions about education. All teachers are held accountable for student learning, and students are held accountable for showing what they have learned....
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Mission Accomplished.

Scorpio Sphinx AFLTA District III  12-8-08

What do you get when you put together ninety-five foreign language teachers? You get six hours of professional development, authentic ethnic food, incredible presentations, camaraderie, and even a little flamenco dancing....
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To Be a Professional.

Scorpio Sphinx Living the Life  11-11-08

What does it mean to be a professional educator? The answer leads us immediately to the word “teacher” and the broad range of responsibilities most commonly associated with teachers, who profess their knowledge in settings varying from a first grade class that begins in the early hours of the day to an adult education class that ends in the late hours of the evening....
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Humanity's Ingenuity on Display.

Scorpio Sphinx NCOLCTL 6-24-08

Most of my interns in foreign language education choose to major in one of the three languages identified in current jargon as a "Commonly Taught Language" (CTL). These are the languages most commonly taught in high school and post-secondary institutions in the USA: Spanish, French, and German....
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An Afternoon with the First People.

Scorpio Sphinx The Fancy Dancers 4-7-08

A few weeks ago I took my mama, DeLean Jones Alexander, to the Fayetteville Public Library to see the Oklahoma Intertribal Fancy Dancers as part of the library's month-long series of events to celebrate American Indian culture. Steve Littleman, emcee and storyteller for the dancers, opened the performance with a thought-provoking comment....
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Air Misadventures, Ground Rewards.

Scorpio Sphinx ATE New Orleans 3-7-08

It's nice to be back home and engaged in a familiar routine after nearly a week of rewarding conferencing and exasperating travel. In America's post 9/11 travel culture, getting to and from an academic conference via airplane is likely to take-up as much time as the conference itself. Do any of you see what I'm seeing, that our air passenger system is showing signs of deep fracture?
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In Memoriam on Epiphany.

Scorpio Sphinx Nicole Hatfield 1-6-08

On this last day of the holiday season in the new year of 2008, I sit before the flat screen of my laptop and allow my mind to wander through a maze of memories, dioramas of faded events, and hazy recollections of friends and mentors. It is Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas, when the three Wise Men, Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar, offered their gifts to the Christ child. It seems fitting to share a vivid recollection about a very special gift that was given to a few of us as young students at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in the seventh decade of the last century.
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The Opportunity for Collaboration.

Scorpio Sphinx Accreditation 12-4-07

Many of my travels have led to familiar places with common themes: teacher education, teaching English as foreign or second language, research in teacher education — but this was my first time to attend the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). An organization of 9,000-plus educators, ACTFL promotes and supports the teaching of common and less commonly taught foreign languages across the vast land of the United States.
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Mae West by the Alamo.

Scorpio Sphinx The Menger 11-17-07

Staying at a historic hotel conjures memories of aging grand dames in a city center of eroding renown. In the historic Riverwalk center in San Antonio, however, the Menger, which opened twenty-three years after the fall of the Alamo, presides elegantly over Alamo Plaza with grace, pride, and honor....
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Scaffold for Success.

Scorpio Sphinx Foreign Language 11-07-07

On Thursday, November 1, at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, 82 students, teachers, professors, and administrators convened in the Smith-Pendergraft Center with a common purpose: professional development in the teaching of foreign languages....
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Show What You Know.

Scorpio Sphinx Assessment 10-23-07

Greetings to all cyber surfers!  In our little corner of the world, the MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) interns at the University of Arkansas have created alternative assessments to "Show What You Know" about the first three chapters of the course text....
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Summer of the Red Wasps.

Scorpio Sphinx Acceptance 8-27-07

To coexist, or not to coexist? That was the question when I opened the bathroom curtain to raise the window on a luscious morning early last spring. In the far left corner of the north-facing pane, a lone red wasp....
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The Fluency of Silence.

Scorpio Sphinx Morton Feldman 1-14-07

I pause in the day's order of business — reading journalism and scholarly pieces, preparing breakfast and sharing the repast with husband and son — to pick up The New Yorker and continue a piece about Morton Feldman....
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To Be a Leader.

Scorpio Sphinx ATE Philadelphia 8-3-06

What is leadership? If you were to answer that question, what qualities would appear on your list? Can you identify an exemplary leader? Are you one?
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Dining with Jefferson.

Scorpio Sphinx ATE Philadelphia 7-31-06

On Friday afternoon I joined other members of the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) Leadership Academy to tour a few famous sites in old Philadelphia....
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On the Waterfront.

Scorpio Sphinx ATE Philadelphia 7-28-06

I've crossed into the mysterious midnight hour here in our room beside the Delaware River, so another day by tick and tock has begun in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania....
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A Memorable Day.

Scorpio Sphinx Time and Teaching 2-12-06

The new year 2006 steadfastly progresses. On this cold Sunday in the hills, it's already February. Another holiday (Valentine's Day in the USA) approaches....
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Reality in Little-People Land.

Scorpio Sphinx Tutoring ELLs 10-31-05

One assignment for my Second Language Methodologies course requires that I tutor an English Language Learner for two hours each week. I contacted a fellow grad student, an ESL instructor....
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Dreams of Domains.

Scorpio Sphinx Praxis III Revisited 9-18-05

In the last days of a pleasant summer, shortly before the start of another academic year, I traveled to the state capital, Little Rock, for one more in a series of Praxis III commitments. I checked into the Legacy....
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Can We Be Bilingual and Diverse?

Scorpio Sphinx Teacher Education 8-23-05

The luxury of summertime contemplation disappears in the approaching rush of a new semester's beginning. It's time to put away my reflections on the sojourn at the ATE conference....
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When Words Count.

Scorpio Sphinx Convergence 8-14-05

Back home from the ATE conference in the former Dakota Territories, I realize that many of the ideas and reflections gathered there aren't going away....
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Delights and Discoveries.

Scorpio Sphinx ATE Conference 8-1-05

As I pack in preparation for Tuesday's departure, I also reflect on the past four days of novelty and excitement. At first mention, one might consider the novelty to originate from the delights and discoveries of experiencing a new place....
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Restless Feet in the North Country.

Scorpio Sphinx ATE Conference 7-30-05

Once again I'm in a capital city. This trip brings me to the North Country, a far (and fair) piece from the south central state of Arkansas. Bismarck, North Dakota, lies barely over a hundred miles from the Canadian border states of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.....
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Of Chameleons and Champagne.

Scorpio Sphinx Praxis III 7-25-05

An added bonus to my Praxis III training last week in the capital city was the opportunity to visit old friends, especially two former colleagues at Little Rock Parkview Performing Arts Magnet High School. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings....
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Praxis III Assessor Training.

Scorpio Sphinx Pathwise 7-19-05

So you want to be a teacher. How does one become a part of such a noble and demanding profession? Some of us had "the calling" as children. I set up my first classroom in the cool, subterranean basement of my childhood home in Eastern Arkansas....
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Anecdotes, Opinions, Commentary.

Scorpio Sphinx Sharing 7-13-05

With pleasure and gratitude, I extend a hearty "thank you" to each one of you who has taken the time to respond to the missives on Planet Gnosis. For everyone's edification, allow me to share the responses from near and far....
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Teachers and Other Languages.

Scorpio Sphinx A Quest 7-7-05

I'm on a quest, and not for sang real (my holiday reading was The Da Vinci Code), but for something just as enigmatic and rare. I seek teacher education programs that require preservice teachers to take a foreign language. I haven't found many. If you work in such a program, please send me the details....
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A Single-Minded Tongue.

Scorpio Sphinx Monolingualism 6-30-05

I ponder the underlying meaning of monolingualism, the import of living in a nation that insists upon remaining single-tongued and doggedly so — despite the heritage of many tongues and the future of many more. Is the pursuit of "English Only" simply another symptom of xenophobia? ....
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Can't We All Just Speak English?

Scorpio Sphinx Languages 6-27-05

Our host and hostess graciously offered us first choice in tasting an aromatic dish of regional specialty. We nodded appreciatively and proceeded to voraciously praise the delicious dish and gesture profusely to emphasize our delight in sharing a meal with them during our stay in Oberammergau, Germany. They nodded, smiled, and responded in kind....
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How Many Valid Gateways Lead
To the Public School Classroom?

Scorpio Sphinx Dispatch Three

Association of Teacher Educators
February 15, 2005

The second day of the conference began inauspiciously. The combination of excitement, intense intellectual engagement, social repartee, and minimal sleep prevented me from wakening at my intended hour. Added to my subdued physical state was a technological breakdown — the alarm clock's refusal to jangle at the appointed minute. I dressed in record time, missed breakfast, and managed to get to my first session just before it ended. What a disappointment — not the presentation, which was great, but....
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No (ATE) Session Is Left Behind
In the Metropolis of Smoky Blues.

Scorpio Sphinx Dispatch Two

Association of Teacher Educators
February 13 and 14, 2005

The conference officially opened on Sunday, February 13, in the International Ballroom of the Hilton Towers on Michigan Avenue when the keynote speaker, Harry Wong, stepped to the podium. He was introduced by Nathanael Pultorak, son of the conference President, Ed Pultorak. Dr. Wong lived up to his reputation. He was humorous, passionate, and intense. He addressed the issues of classroom management and effective teaching....
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A Mozart Concerto Inspires Writers.

Scorpio Sphinx Dispatch One

Association of Teacher Educators
February 13, 2005

Greetings from the Windy City. I've just returned from my first presentation about using music to teach literacy. Anne Schultz and Glenda Cosenza co-presented their Action Research Project in the Chicago Public Schools as an effective strategy to teach writing skills to primary school-aged bilingual children. Ms Schultz told about her frustration trying to teach these children writing. After an especially challenging class with a group of second graders, she jumped in her car and loaded a Mozart CD to create a mood of serenity. It was during this interlude that she experienced that Aha! moment....
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Horror Stories from the Ivory Tower.

Scorpio Sphinx Vignettes 1-25-05

A new transfer student, a close relative to a fellow Ph.D candidate, visited the university on the mountain yesterday. She called on us at the GA (Graduate Assistant) office and offered two vignettes from her first day of classes.
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Christening a Portfolio with a Postcard.

Scorpio Sphinx Portfolios 1-20-05

The first class of the new semester took place at a small rural Arkansas high school, not at the university as would be supposed. I was invited to teach portfolio writing by Novice Teacher to a group of eleventh grades who are academically at risk. Novice teacher was pondering the best way to engage these learners, so I offered my experience using portfolios for the ESL (English as a Second Language) writing classes I had taught in the Intensive English Program at the University of Central Arkansas. He conferred with the head of the English Department at his school, and she agreed that it would be a worthwhile endeavor.
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Relentless, Ubiquitous "School Days."

Scorpio Sphinx Confinement 12-27-04

The third day of Christmas arrives in the restive, expansive northwest corner of Arkansas. For those of us in the teaching profession, we enter the second week of respite from an intensive semester of instruction, study, preparation, assessment, and academic juggling. The demands of administration and classroom management can be intense and fierce.
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