Skip to main content

2011 Teaching and Learning Conference

2011 Teaching and Learning Conference

The 5th annual Teaching and Learning Conference for PK-12 educators will be July 21-22. Erin Gruwell, an innovative educator whose story made it to the big screen in the 2007 film "Freedom Writers" with Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank as Gruwell, and Mike Artell, an award-winning children's author, illustrator and television cartoonist, are keynote speakers for the two-day conference at McNeese State University.

"Literacy, Numeracy and Technology" is the theme of this year's conference, sponsored by the Burton College of Education and supported by the college's Burton Endowment.

"Participants will learn and share ideas about the influence of reading, math and technology in PK‐12 literacy," according to Dr. Wayne Fetter, college dean. "Breakout sessions and keynote addresses will present strategies and resources for teachers to take back to their classrooms."

Since 2006, over 700 participants have attended the conferences. "The conference has evolved from its first theme of literacy to also include numeracy, or math, and technology, which is a vehicle for presenting content in today's classroom," said Fetter.

Teachers can still register for the conference. Registration fee is $100 a person and must be completed in advance of the conference as there is no on-site registration available. Registration information and other conference details are available online at http://literacy.mcneese.ed​u/.

If you require special assistance or have special medical or dietary needs, please contact Donna at with a description of those needs.

ABOUT ERIN GRUWELL:Freedom Writers' Erin Gruwell
Nothing could have prepared Erin Gruwell for her first day teaching at Wilson High School in Long Beach,  California. Many of her students from this tough, racially divided school were deemed "unteachable" and written off by the education system. Shaken, but undeterred, Gruwell leveraged the power of education to deliver an academic miracle.

Finding her classroom a safe haven, the Freedom Writers transcribed their stories on paper, transforming their lives one word at a time. Through Gruwell's efforts, these stories were published in the book Freedom Writer's Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them. Her enthusiasm and fierce determination galvanized her class and eventually all 150 of her students went on to graduate from high school and attend college.

Gruwell's story made it to the big screen, as she is portrayed by Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank in Paramount Picture's feature film, Freedom Writers.

Gruwell now serves as Distinguished Teacher in Residence at California State University at Long Beach in the College of Liberal Arts and Education.

Mike Artell is an award-winning children's book author, illustrator and TV cartoonist. Artell's body of work includes nationally recognized picture books, wordplay books, how-to books and non-fiction books. He has also written and illustrated teacher and parent resource books on subjects as diverse as ecology, parties, cartooning and young authorship. He also has extensive experience as a musician, storyteller, newspaper editorial cartoonist and keynote speaker and humorist.

For his "Author/Illustrator in Residence" Programs at schools, Artell was recognized by the Northshore (LA) Chapter of the International Reading Association for "exemplary service in the promotion of literacy."

Recently, Artell has written
two easy-reader books for children on quarterbacks Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, scheduled for publication by Sports Illustrated for Kids in August.

He has a bachelor's degree in marketing from Southeastern Louisiana University and is a member of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor.