2014 Conference

copenhaver institute logo

Fifteenth Annual Institute, 2014 

Theme: Putting the Pieces Together: Revealing Student Growth and Instructional Excellence 
Speakers: Dr. Anthony Frontier, director of teacher education program at Cardinal Stritch Univeristy, and Dr. Raymond Jones, master trainer for Project CRISS- Creating Independence through Student-owned Strategies, and developer of webmaster for ReadingQuest.org, a teaching resource website
Award Recipient and Luncheon Speaker: Ms. Isabel Castillo, a co-founder of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance
Sponsoring Divisions: City of Salem Schools, Roanoke City Schools, Roanoke County Schools
Date: June 23-25, 2014

Headshot of Anthony Frontier Headshot of Raymond Jones Headshot of Isabel Castillo
Dr. Anthony Frontier Dr. Raymond Jones Ms. Isabel Castilo 


The fifteenth annual Margaret Sue Copenhaver Institute for Teaching and Learning was held June 23-25, 2014, on the Roanoke College Campus. Dr. Anthony Frontier and Dr. Raymond Jones presented keynote lectures on the 2014 annual theme, Putting the Pieces Together: Revealing Student Growth and Instructional Excellence. Ms. Isabel Castilo, co-founder of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, presented at the closing luncheon. 

Three public school divisions and one independent school partnered with Roanoke College to sponsor the 2014 Institute; City of Salem Schools, Roanoke City Schools, Roanoke County Schools, and Roanoke Valley Christian Schools. Thirty-four teachers and administrators represented the sponsoring schools as full time participants. An additional 66 individuals attended based on application submissions, steering committee membership, or service as breakout speaker. In total, 100 full-time participants attended the Institute. Ms. Kathy Galford, 2014 Virginia Teacher of the Year, participated in all three days of the program. In addition, several Virginia regional teachers of the years joined us. 

The Institute was privileged to host a number of special guests, including Ms. Isabel Castillo, recipient of the first bi-annual Helen C. Hanes Friend of Education Award. Breakout speakers and discussion leaders included experts from ten school districts and seven colleges and universities; Arlington City, Botetourt County, City of Salem, Craig County, Franklin County, King George County, Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Woodruff Arts Center (GA), Averett University, Bridgewater College, Ferrum College, James Madison University, Roanoke College, Virginia Tech, and Virginia Western Community College. Apple Incorporated  personnel  also participated as breakout speakers.  Roanoke College faculty and staff contributed to various Institute events; including Dr. Lisa Earp, President Michael Maxey, Dr. Michael Mania, Ms. Patty Powell, Dr. Maria Stallions, and Dr. Gary Whitt.  

This year's Institute attendees represented five states:  Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Texas, and Virginia.  Eighteen school divisions were represented: Arlington County, Botetourt County, City of Salem, Chesapeake, Chesterfield County, Colonial Heights, Craig County, Dallas Independent School District (TX), Franklin County, Guilford County (NC), Hampton City, King George County, King William County, Montgomery County, Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Virginia Beach City, and West Point. Three independent schools also participated; Dubai American Academy (UAE), Roanoke Valley Christian Schools, and Summit School (NC).
The number of 2014 full-time participants is listed below. Compared to 2013 there was a slight decrease in the number of participants, but it remained steady with numbers in attendance from several prior institutes. 


2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Full-Time Participants 98 123 90 119 166 147 110 103 150   111 100

In addition to the full-time participants in attendance at the Institute, a number of invited guests attended one or more events across the course of the three days.  These individuals included Roanoke College faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, session leaders, invited special guests, and area educational leaders and colleagues.


2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Invited Guests 49 38 33 38 27 22 45 26 24 28 20

A continuing Institute initiative is to accept a balanced group of applicants, representing teachers at all grade levels, as well as administrators.  Established acceptance criteria were used for this purpose, and the attendance shows a representation of participants in all sub groups.  An additional participant goal for 2014 was a 10% or greater enrollment of preservice teachers. The goal was identified to strengthen the college's teacher preparation program and to align with the donor's original desire to provide students with an early professional development experience. For the first time since 2007 this goal was achieved, with preservice teachers totaling 15%.  This effort was supported by scholarships given by Kappa Delta Pi Upsilon Tau Chapter, Copenhaver Institute Steering Committee, Jackie Stanley, Andrew and Lauren Hartman, Roanoke College's Fortnightly Club, Roanoke Valley Reading Council, Verizon Foundation Scholarship, and Virginia State Reading Association. Virginia Professional Educators provided scholarships for five members of the Virginia Teacher of the Year Network. 

In recent years, the Institute has successfully balanced the number of participants representing elementary (K-5) and secondary (6-12). The trend continued for 2014, with 34% middle and secondary teachers and 35% elementary teachers. The number of administrators in attendance decreased slightly, suggesting a 2014 theme with particular relevance to classroom practitioners.

Faculty and students from eight colleges and universities attended: Averett University, Bridgewater College, Ferrum College, James Madison University, Mary Baldwin College, Roanoke College, Virginia Tech, and Virginia Western Community College. For the third year in a row, participation by sister institutions has reflected at least 10% of individuals in attendance.  This strongly suggests MSCI emerging influence and respect in the education community.

Attendance across various groups is reflected in the table below.  

Sub Groups

Elementary (K-5) Middle (6-8) Secondary (9-12) PK-12 Administration College/ University Preservice Teachers
% Group: 2004 34.5% 20% 14.5% 13.5% 8.5% 9%
% Group: 2005 40% 15% 12.5% 20% 6.5% 6%
% Group:  2006 41% 18% 11% 7% 14% 9%
% Group: 2007 36% 13% 6% 26% 8% 11%
% Group: 2008 30% 22% 13% 26% 4% 5%
% Group: 2009 50% 20% 11% 13% 1% 5%
% Group: 2010 35% 34% 10% 9% 4% 8%
% Group: 2011 39% 23% 12.5% 5% 13.5% 7%
% Group: 2012 35% 13% 9% 24% 13% 7%
% Group: 2013 26%                  17% 12% 14% 22% 9%
% Group: 2014 35% 20% 14% 6% 10% 25%

Reflecting on this data, we have determined the following goals for 2015:

  • Continue soliciting scholarships supporting the participation of pre-service teachers. 
  • Continue strengthening the partnership with the Virginia Teacher of the Year Network.
  • Continue balancing participation by elementary and secondary teachers.
  • Expand advertising of the Institute to reach a broader geographic audience; including RC alums and a diversity of educators.
  • Continue to schedule the Institute during the last full week of June to encourage attendance among school divisions with later school years.
  • Initiate a focus group of veteran participants to envision Institute growth.

Institute Events

Putting the Pieces Together: Revealing Student Growth and Instructional Excellence was the focus of this year's Institute.  Grounded in the scholarship of keynote speakers who build their professional work on student-centered, constructivist classroom practices, this year's program furthered the Institute's commitment to offer annual themes that build on a consistent theoretical base. Furthermore, it focused on one of the Institute's guiding goals, "consideration of cutting-edge perspectives relevant to the teaching profession." Currently all 50 States are in the process of redefining and reimagining teacher evaluation. This year's program contributed to that conversation in Virginia.

The Institute continued offerings that have been well received in the past, such as keynote addresses, question and answer sessions with keynote speakers, technology workshops, and a variety of breakout sessions.  The Monday afternoon reception in the Colket Center was continued as a special event to conclude a day of interaction with Drs. Frontier and Jones.  Tuesday continued with an additional keynote session and breakouts.   Wednesday offered additional breakout sessions, including a panel discussion on teacher evaluation and student performance.  Physical fitness activities were offered on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and Tuesday afternoon.  In the evenings, participants were invited to interact on campus and at various local sites.  The College's bookstore also offered resources for participant purchase.

Breakout sessions focused on areas of continuing interest such as faith and learning and hands-on classroom application of Institute themes. The 27 speakers and panel members were selected from a pool of proposals submitted to the Institute faculty.  

At the Institute's closing luncheon on Wednesday, June 25, Ms. Isabel Castillo was honored as the first recipient of the bi-annual Helen C. Hanes Friend of Education Award. Because of her work on the behalf of immigrant children in US public schools the MSCI steering committee saw this year's award winner as someone who is a friend of education and one who models the ideals of the Marion Creed. "To care for what is, rather than for what seems; to be loyal to what is best in the traditions of the past and yet open to the discoveries of the present and the hopes of the future; to find ... strength in constructive service......"  Ms. Castillo is the founder of DREAM Activist Virginia and co-founder of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance. She is also a board member for New Bridges Immigrant Resource Center and a volunteer interpreter for the Harrisonburg Public Schools (VA).

At the award luncheon, institute participants also honored Mrs. Hanes's memory and her vision for the Copenhaver Institute by reading the Marion Ideal, the creed statement of Copey's alma mata - Marion College. Candles were lit to symbolize Copey's service to her community and an ensemble of Roanoke College women sang Amazing Grace to recall the grace she shared with others.  


This year's evaluation forms measured the participants' perception and satisfaction with the program and how the Institute is affecting teacher practice and learning. 

Approximately 67% of MSCI 2014's full-time participants submitted evaluation forms, signifying an increase of 7% from the previous year.  Forms were distributed during the panel session on Wednesday morning. The panel topic and speakers seemed to draw a large number of participants, suggesting that this was a well-selected venue for evaluation distribution and collection. For future years, we should continue to consider how Wednesday morning programming may be developed to entice participation.  We may also consider piloting an electronic survey.  

Data from the 2014 surveys reveals both significant successes and exciting possibilities for future growth. Collected data indicates positive participant perception in the areas of: 1) learning new skills and knowledge, 2) time to meet new people, network, collaborate, and share experiences, 3) classroom relevance of presented material, and 4) atmosphere of professional respect. One participant synthesized the strengths of the Institute by saying,  

MSCI creates a life/work balance that is hard to capture and act upon during the school year. There is time to be exposed to new ideas and to new ways to look at old ideas; there is time to share leisurely meals with professionals; there is time to live in concert with others; there is time to reflect. This is a rejuvenating and affirming conference experience.  

Participants also offered suggestions that may be beneficial for future growth.  Below are highlights of the program's effectiveness and possible areas for improvement. More detailed information is available in the attached data reports. 

Institute Offerings and Environment

Areas of Effectiveness

The following chart details areas that both veterans and new participants responded to favorably in relation to Institute offerings and environment.  All of the items listed below received a mean score of 4.3 or higher on a five-point scale.  Those designated with an asterisk received a score of 4.5 or higher.

At the Institute

My classroom experience was valued by others.

My knowledge base was valued by others.

*I was treated with professional respect.

My time was valued.

*I felt encouraged to continue teaching.

*I found the environment enjoyable.

*I found the environment encouraged me to engage with others.

I gained a new appreciation for a colleague(s).

I gained a deeper appreciation for a colleague(s).

I learned more about what my peers do as educators.

*A mutual respect for colleagues was fostered.

My interaction with peers encouraged me to continue teaching.

A mutual respect for colleagues was fostered.

Suggestions for Future Use

The suggestions listed below provide ideas for future improvement and Institute growth.

  • Work to narrow the focus of breakout sessions insuring participants received instruction specific to their grade level - primary, intermediate, middle and high. Consider multiple offerings of stronger session topics and speakers.
  • Develop a program offering for pre-service teachers focusing on the annual theme.     
  • Continue collaborating with the Virginia Teacher of the Year Network and Virginia Professional Educators to identify and maintain a reliable and effective group of breakout speakers. Become a venue recognizing and celebrating Virginia's award winning teachers.       
  • Consider new ways to balance session times and network opportunities.  
  • Initiate an advertising campaign to increase participation and expand the diversity among participants.  
  • Create an electronic mechanism for storing presenter materials; provide participants with access to these items for future reference.

Institute Content: Pedagogical Theory

Areas of Effectiveness

The following chart details areas that both veteran and new participants favorably responded to regarding Institute content, including personal growth in understanding pedagogical theory.  All of the items listed below received a mean score of 4.3 or higher on a five-point scale.  Those designated with an asterisk received a score of 4.5 or higher.

What I learned at the Institute

Is authentic or has relevance in my classroom.

Can change my classroom practice.

Will change my classroom practice.

Has provided me with new teaching skills.

*Has provided me with new knowledge.

*Aligns with what I believe about effective teaching and learning.

*Helped me recognize how my own personal teaching practice can be improved.

*Caused me to reflect on my beliefs about teaching and learning.

Suggestions for Future Use

The suggestions listed below provide ideas for future improvement and Institute growth.

  • Create ways teachers can engage their own curriculum within the context of the Institute's theme or practice the theory presented. Keep an eye on content areas outside of the humanities, particularly for math and science.
  • Discover ways to help teachers positively engage ideas that challenge their thinking.
  • Continue to find ways to initiate new participants into the learning community, including the pre-service teachers.
  • Develop a process to better vet keynote speakers, including hearing them present at other nationally recognized conferences.
  • Foster ways for participants to make connections between the Institute theme, relevant policies and regulations at local, state and national levels, and their daily classroom practice.  It may be advisable to offer a curriculum construction session on Wednesday morning to engage participants in this initiative.

Potential for Positive Impact Going Forward

Areas of Effectiveness

The following chart details areas that both veteran and new participants favorably responded to regarding the impact of the Institute on their classroom teaching and continuing professional growth.  All of the items listed below received a mean score of 4.3 or higher on a five-point scale.  Those designated with an asterisk received a score of 4.5 or higher.

After attending the Institute

I am more likely to continue teaching.

*I am likely to share my new knowledge and skills with peers at my local school.

I feel inclined to share my learning with new teachers.

I feel inclined to share my learning with pre-service teachers.

After attending the Institute multiple years (responses provided by veteran participants only)

*I understand how the different themes/topics presented work together to build a consistent teaching practice.

*I feel I have a better understanding of teaching.

I have a better understanding of the constructivist teaching philosophy.

Suggestions for Future Use

  • Offer a breakout session for veteran participants in which they can reflect on how MSCI and their engagement with its themes has changed their classroom practice over the course of time.
  • Provide year around professional development support to a cohort of MSCI veterans.
  • Grow Institute participation by increased attendance on site - concentrating on diversifying participants and expanding the program to a regional conference.

2014 Participants Speak- Direct Quotes from Evaluation Forms

  • Not afraid to discuss and look at all sides of a topic!
  • Getting together with other professionals for reflection after developing a common language after sessions is invaluable.
  • The way I am "honored" makes me remember that I am a professional; I am valued. Thank you!
  • I gained so much from the keynotes and from the breakouts...I also gain so much from the networking and discussions with colleagues.
  • The variety of knowledgeable presenters bringing different perspectives and expertise to a topic.
  • Variety of experiences and interests; blends of research and real life; practical advice combined with challenge.
  • As always, I gained so much from the Institute. It is always therapeutic and reenergizes me to continue teaching! Thank you.
  • Roanoke College is a hidden gem that needs to capitalize on its position as a leader in education and in teaching/learning. Expand regionally!
  • I really enjoyed having a chance to pick workshops based on my needs.
  • Raymond Jones' lecture, particularly because it was slightly controversial. I think cognitive dissonance is crucial to challenging and changing beliefs.
  • It was nice/wonderful to be able to voice ideas without getting knocked down.
  • This Institute celebrates teachers. The attitude is very positive. It is evident the teachers at this institute want to be lifelong learners!
  • Thank you so much for inviting me to the Institute. It renewed my enthusiasm for my profession.


The Margaret Sue Copenhaver Institute continues to maintain its reputation as a distinctive venue for teacher professional development, one which honors teaching as a profession and provides participants with valuable instruction while offering personal respect.  The 2014 program offered participants the opportunity to hear from nationally recognized scholars during keynote sessions, to consider new ideas for classroom practice in breakout sessions.  This year's breakout speakers were well received. Our goal of finding a pool of qualified breakout speakers has been achieved through a new collaboration with the Virginia Teacher of the Year Network and by extending breakout invitations to previously successful presenters.  Participants had mixed ratings for the keynote speakers; some were well pleased, others felt the information presented was not sufficient or dated. Vetting keynote speakers often requires hearing these individuals at other national conferences. This requires travel expenses that the MSCI budget has trouble funding. 

Due to the national economic climate, the Institute has consistently experienced a downturn in annual income provided through the endowment. The Office of Roanoke College's President continues to support MSCI by sponsoring lodging. The Institute directors solicit funding from partner school divisions, scholarships from professional organizations, and annual grants from the Copenhaver Scholar in Residence Program at Roanoke College. In the coming year, the directors will submit grants proposals to the Hanes Foundation to strengthen the endowment, provide for an advertising campaign, and establish a year around program to support MSCI veterans' implementation of their learning. With the death of Mrs. Hanes the Institute will no longer receive her annual $10,000 gift. This deficit will result in a smaller operating budget impacting Institute offerings.

After 15 years of service as the Institute co-director, Dr. Tim Reynolds has resigned from MSCI to pursue a career with The American School in Switzerland. Dr. Lisa Earp has been recommended to the Academic Dean to fill the co-director vacancy. Lisa was instrumental in the early design of MSCI and has participated and presented in the ensuing years.

As the Institute moves forward, the directors and steering committee will continue to identify keynote and breakout speakers, themes and classroom practices that engage the issues and challenges of 21st century schools.  Speakers for MSCI 2015 are identified and confirmed.   Additionally, a focus group of Institute veterans will be convened over the course of the 2014/2015 academic year to envision the next stage for MSCI growth and development. Strategies will also be considered for attracting a broad and diverse pool of participants.  Finally, the Institute will continue to focus on ways to support teachers' ongoing efforts to impact, measure and demonstrate the growth of K-12 students. 

Respectfully submitted,

Leslie Murrill signature                                         Jim Reynolds signature

Leslie Murrill, Ph.D.                                                             Tim Reynolds, Ph.D.

Professor of Education                                       Associate Professor of Education

MSCI Co-Director                                                               MSCI Co-Director