9th Annual Bill Martin, Jr. Symposium

The Texas A&M University-Commerce Department of Curriculum and Instruction held its 9th annual Bill Martin Jr. Symposium recently in the Sam Rayburn Student Center.

Bill Martin, Jr. was one of America’s most beloved children’s authors whose pen wrote Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. He spent the last eleven years of his life living in Commerce and as a friend of the university. In 2000, Bill Martin, Jr. donated his professional library to A&M-Commerce, and it is held in a special room in Sowers Education South building. This library includes numerous manuscripts, letters from the greats of children’s literature and many of his published works. His honorary degrees and a majority of his awards are also displayed in this collection. For the last nine years, A&M-Commerce has hosted this symposium to bring in educators near and far for the ability to learn from friends and colleagues of Mr. Martin.

“We have this wonderful symposium where we invite back friends of Bill to enlighten us on their great ideas in literacy,” said Dr. Martha Foote, Head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

This year’s symposium featured poet and speaker, Brod Bagert, a friend of Bill Martin, who also attended many of the Bill Martin, Jr. Conferences that were held while he was still alive. Bagert also read aloud a poem from his book, Rainbows, Head Lice and Pea-Green Tile, the majority of which he mentioned were actually written at Bill Martin, Jr. Conferences. Session attendees were invited to register at 8 a.m. before the 9 a.m. keynote session with music, prizes and the 5th grade children from a local Greenville, TX elementary school read aloud the book they authored and illustrated. Several breakout sessions were hosted throughout the day across the A&M-Commerce campus for teachers to attend and learn about children’s literacy and writing. Vendors were available for those who were interested in purchasing teaching supplies or the various authors’ children’s books that were on display.

During the conference, two students were recognized as the recipients of the Bill Martin, Jr. Literacy Endowment Scholarship for $800 each in tuition. Meghan Methvin is a junior pursuing her EC-6 ESL teaching certification, and plans to attend A&M-Commerce for her Master’s of Curriculum and Instruction. Elisha Rivera is working toward her EC-6 Generalist teaching certificate and plans to graduate this December.

“This is a day I look forward to all year long, said Dr. Gail Johnson, Interim Dean of the College of Education and Human Services. “It’s a happy day. A&M-Commerce has been educating teachers now for almost 125 years. We are so happy to continue doing so through events like this symposium.”

Preparations are already being made for next year’s symposium, so save the date for May 2, 2014. For more information on the Bill Martin Jr. Symposium visit http://www.tamuc.edu/BillMartinJr.