Twenty-two Lyon College juniors and seniors have joined Alpha Chi National Scholarship Honor Society. The college’s Arkansas Eta chapter inducts students whose academic achievement places them in the top ten percent of their class.
Inductees from this area include Ashley Green and Allison Green of Cave City, Haley Reed and Vinston Vann of Batesville, and Savannah Youngblood of Melbourne.
Other inductees are Devon Austin of Caraway, Becca Burrow of Brinkley, Logan Dunn of Judsonia, James Eldred of Maumelle, Jaylin Finley of Hope, Jonathan Followell and Ali Tucker of Jonesboro, Anna Beth Haney of West Memphis, Tanner Harris of Brookland, Alec Hester of Blytheville, Zoya Miller of Harrison, Natalie Milligan of Lake City, Cassidy Miller of Corning, Jared Self of Russellville, Samantha Sharp of Searcy, Hannah Smithee of Paragould, and Nathan Wilson of Mountain View.
Founded almost a century ago, Alpha Chi has some 300 chapters across the country and over 500,000 members. It holds a National Convention annually, at which students present their scholarly work and compete for scholarships. At last year’s convention on Louisville, LY, Lyon students won scholarships worth $6,000.
The Lyon College chapter of Alpha Chi is the society’s most distinguished chapter, having been named a Star Chapter multiple times and having won the honor society’s President’s Cup twice, the only chapter so honored.
“Silly Miss Sarah!” Children’s voices mix with their laughter when Sarah Winters, a Lyon elementary education major, says something they find funny.
“I’ve always really loved working with people,” says Winters, “and I really thought about doing the secondary education program, but high schoolers are intimidating! When Lyon added the elementary program, it was really perfect for me because I love working with younger children, and I feel like I have the right energy to be with them. They are so funny. They always say the silliest things in class, and they make me happy. I have found a job that I feel like I’ll be really happy working in every day.”
She adds, “If I hadn’t had my internship, I would feel completely unprepared to be working.” Currently working in Mrs. Dorajo MacDonald’s class at Central Elementary, she gets to take the lead in the classroom often, “so I really know what it’s going to feel like when I’m in the classroom by myself within the next year.”
Ms. Karin Brown and Dr. Kim Crosby, Lyon education professors, reach out to the local schools to find teachers who are comfortable having interns. Winters points out that she observed in MacDonald’s classroom last year. “Now I’m back,” she says, “and I’m really involved in the classroom. I plan some of the lessons, and by November I’ll be teaching from 8 to 12, and I’ll have full control of the class during that time every day.”
Central has three kindergarten teachers who work as a team, taking turns designing different parts of the lesson plans. They teach the same lessons to all three kindergarten classes, making sure that all students get an equal level of education and will be in the same place when they transition to first grade.
“I really love that about Central,” says Winters. “Principal [Byron] Defani is really great. He works with all of the teachers and makes sure that everyone has everything they need. You can see him around the school pretty much all of the time. He drops by classrooms all of the time. The students know who he is, and they all really love him. It’s a great place.”
Winters explains, “When I’m just sitting in class with my textbooks, I learn a lot of the information that I will be teaching to the students or different techniques I can use to teach the students, but, honestly, when you get into the classroom, it’s a whole different game because the students may not learn the way that the textbook has described for you to teach them. When you’re teaching in the classroom, you have to learn to adapt and work with what you have going on in the class.”
She has found that sitting in a classroom with a textbook alone cannot really prepare future teachers for being in the classroom. Her experience at Central “has really shown me what my job will actually be like versus what the ideal thought process for my job will be like, so it’s really helped me prepare for actually being a teacher.”
She also notes that Lyon’s liberal arts program is very helpful for elementary school teachers, who teach every subject to their pupils. “They’re going to ask you questions about science, about math, about social studies, and that’s all your responsibility,” says Winters, “so when I have a wealth of knowledge that I’ve gotten from Lyon that applies in the multiple areas that I’m teaching them, it really helps me feel more comfortable and prepared in the classroom, which in turn makes the students more comfortable as well.”
Lyon College has been notified that it was awarded a competitive grant to continue its Upward Bound Math-Science (UBMS) Program, according to Jiana Stover, who directs Lyon’s program. UBMS is a federally funded program designed to help first-generation, low-income high school students prepare for college, specifically in math and science fields.
Lyon’s UBMS grant serves high school students in grades 9-11 from ten high schools in Eastern Arkansas, schools as far away as Highland, Pocahontas, and West Memphis. The local program has been in place since the 1990s. Students can participate for the three years of their high school time, preparing them not only to achieve academic success but also to become good citizens and community leaders.
UBMS benefits Lyon and the local community in many different ways. Much of the annual budget is spent here through hiring Lyon professors to lead summer classes and research groups, hiring Lyon students as grant staff, and having UBMS students stay on campus in the dorms and eat in the cafeteria during the summer program. They also shop and eat in the community.
Many of the high school students go on to become highly successful members of the Lyon student body, serving as members of Residence Life staff, student government, theater performances, fraternities, sororities, gospel choir, band, athletics, and many other campus opportunities.
In the last few years several successful Lyon graduates came from the UBMS program, and over eight former UBMS students currently attend Lyon. More who have applied for next year’s freshman class have been accepted. Two recent graduates are now in the Ph.D. program in mathematics at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, and several others are math and science teachers at area schools. Local Batesville veterinarian and Lyon alumnus Dr. Matt Gunter is a UBMS graduate, highlighting the legacy and value of this program in the local community.
Area residents with backgrounds in math or science are encouraged contribute to the UBMS program by speaking about their professions. Speakers on such general topics as dealing with stress or transitioning successfully from high school into college life are also welcome.
To volunteer, contact Jiana Stover at 870-307-7183 or email@example.com.
Pictured: UBMS student Teresa Miller shows off a chemical structure she made in Dr. Irosha Nawarathne’s TB or not TB? Chemistry of creating new medicines research group.
President W. Joseph King has announced that Dr. Melissa P. Taverner has been appointed Provost and Dean of the Faculty effective January 15, 2018. Taverner is an Associate Professor of Biology at Emory & Henry College, a national liberal arts college located in Emory, Virginia. In 2016-2017, she served as Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College. In her twenty-two years there, she has also served as Chair of the Division of Natural Sciences, Director of Assessment, and Chair of the Department of Biology.
“Dr. Taverner brings extensive classroom and academic leadership experience to Lyon, as well as experience with strategic planning and assessment, recruitment and retention, high-impact academic experiences, and diversity and inclusion. Having attended and spent her career at a residential liberal arts college, she deeply understands our mission and commitment to transformational experiences for our students. I look forward to working with Dr. Taverner as we strategically examine ways to advance Lyon’s academic reputation and ensure its financial sustainability,” said King.
“I am excited to be joining Lyon at this critical time in its history,” Taverner says. “The mission of Lyon College - fostering critical, creative thought and ethical, spiritual growth, thus preparing students for fulfilling lives committed to learning and service - immediately appealed to me, and resonates with my personal and professional goals. Having the opportunity to work with such a talented and committed faculty and staff is a privilege, and I look forward to forging a productive partnership with them that will strengthen the liberal arts tradition at Lyon so that the institution can continue its tradition of educating engaged citizens.”
Taverner received her Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia, M.Sc. in Virology from the University of Reading (UK), and B.A. in Biology from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. A Virginia native, Taverner is married to David Taverner and has two children, Rachel Titus and Jordan Taverner.
Dr. Paul Bube, who has served as Interim Provost since July, will return to the classroom as W. Lewis McColgan Professor of Religion.
Garrard Conley, a 2007 graduate of Lyon College, will be the featured convocation speaker at 7 p.m. on Monday, October 23, in Brown Chapel on the Lyon campus. He will speak on “radical compassion,” and all interested persons are invited to attend this free event.
Conley will share stories from his memoir, Boy Erased, about growing up in a fundamentalist household and attending a conversion therapy program. In the midst of harmful practices and intense bigotry, Conley dug deep to find compassion for himself and even for the counselors who harmed him, struggling to understand what people should do when fundamentalist thinking damages their understanding of compassion and goodness. After over a decade of recovery, he will share some of his insights on human nature.
Conley wrote about his experiences in Boy Erased, an autobiographical account of his being outed at age 19 to his religiously-conservative parents, agreeing that he would attend a “gay conversion therapy” program at their request, its effect on him, and his decision not to “erase” who he really was but affirm his own, authentic identity while continuing a loving relationship with his family.
After the book appeared in late 2016, it attracted national attention, especially after Oprah named it to her list of The Best Memoirs of 2016. Pride recognized Boy Erased as one of 15 Must-Read LGBT Books of 2016, and Buzzfeed named it one of the Best Nonfiction Books of the year. It was also named as a top memoir by Travel + Leisure, Bustle, and the Los Angeles Times.
Joel Edgerton, a well-known actor, writer, director, and producer, read the book and decided he wanted to transform it into a film that would be faithful to the story. As a result, he asked Garrard to write a script, but the young author believed someone more experienced in the film world could do a better job. Edgerton then took it on, collaborating closely with Conley. Edgerton is also portraying the director of Love in Action, the conversion therapy program, directing, and producing.
Playing Garrard will be Lucas Hedges, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Patrick, a key character in 2016’s Manchester by the Sea.
Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe will portray Garrard’s parents. The film will be the first collaboration between these two top stars and longtime friends. It is set for release on September 28, 2018.
Garrard states, “It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to have this story taken so seriously and to have it be told by some very talented people.”
Conley applied for the Peace Corps while still a sophomore at Lyon. Immediately after graduating, he headed to the Ukraine as a Peace Corps volunteer. He also taught International Baccalaureate literature courses at the American College of Sofia, Bulgaria. During his time there, he realized how much Love in Action had brainwashed him and altered the memories of his youth, so he began work on the memoir.
Back in the U.S., Conley lives with his husband, Shahab Yunus, and teaches in Brooklyn, New York. He also runs the Memoir Incubator class for GrubStreet in Boston. His other work can be found in Time, Vice, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and on CNN.com, Buzzfeed, and elsewhere. He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Elizabeth Kostova Foundation writers’ conferences and is now in talks with his publisher on his first novel, a historical fiction narrative set in the Great Awakening of the eighteenth century, a time of widespread spiritual revival.
The Lyon College Scot Shop is selling copies of the book for $16 to be signed at the event.
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