Faculty Development Fund Makes Summer Projects Possible

After a six-hour trek from his home in Philadelphia, Alan Ens entered a new world of music instruction.

Ens, who teaches guitar at the Mary Louise Curtis, Kardon-Northeast, Wynnefield, and Camden Branches, enrolled in the Virginia Suzuki Institute at Emory & Henry College during June, and through a rigorous combination of masterclasses, lessons, and classroom observation, he was immersed in new teaching methods and emerged with his Book 1 certification in Suzuki guitar instruction.

“This is one of the best things I have ever done as a musician and a teacher,” he says.

Ens received the opportunity for this training through the newly established Faculty Professional Development Fund, endowed by an anonymous Settlement donor. The Fund was established in 2016 to help faculty members pursue additional training through workshops, conferences, travel, and other experiences. Ens hopes this experience will spur new program offerings, with guitar building on Settlement’s existing Suzuki programs in violin, cello, piano, and flute.

Including Ens, the Fund supported several Settlement faculty members with their plans for personal growth. Susan Liedke, visual art instructor for the Kaleidoscope Pre-Kindergarten Arts Enrichment Program, traveled to Cuba on a cultural outing organized by the Pennsylvania Art Educators Association.

Liedke spent her trip visiting museums, touring cultural sites, and making contact with Cuban artists in Havana and other cities. She drew inspiration as both an artist and teacher from some unique artifacts, including a functioning camera obscura, a device developed in the 16th century for projecting images as a precursor to the modern photographic camera.

“It’s something I’d love to incorporate into future classroom projects,” she says.

In areas without access to art supplies, Liedke observed artists and teachers using recycled materials for projects: cans, bottles, and other items that might have ended up in the trash. This approach could lend itself well to the kinds of craft projects that her pre-kindergarten students enjoy, and she wants to return to this idea during an environmentally-themed unit around Earth Day next spring.

“The Fund really made this whole thing possible,” she says. “Without it, I would not have been part of the trip.”