The How of Reading Instruction in a Classical Education

Teacher preparation and knowledge are fundamental to student reading achievement. In this session, we will discuss why a systematic phonetic approach to reading instruction is classical, brain-based and effective. We will address the importance of phonemic awareness, language and vocabulary development and best practices for reading instruction. Practical strategies for providing support in the grammar school classroom will be shared. Participants will be able to apply their knowledge of reading development into effective instructional practices as well as assessment tools.

Jessica Gombert

Jessica Gombert is in her 16th year as the grammar school headmaster at the Geneva School of Boerne. She holds a MA in Education and has been involved in many aspects of education for 30 years. Teaching experiences include special education, kindergarten, adult classes for Region 20 Alternative Certification program and student teacher supervision at University of Texas at San Antonio. She has a passion for teaching students to become lifelong learners, mentoring teachers and for classical and Christian education. She is currently writing children’s readers to supplement the phonics curriculum.

Melissa Siller

Melissa Siller has spent the last 20 years in various areas of education, including assessment item writing, classroom teaching, teaching pre-service teachers in field based teacher education, and is currently in her 8th year as the reading specialist at the Geneva School of Boerne. In addition, she is an adjunct faculty member in Trinity University's Department of Education. Her research focuses on teacher education, brain-based teaching practices, curriculum and inquiry as well as beginning in-service teacher induction support. She earned her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The “How” of Reading Instruction: The Importance of a Systematic Approach to Early Literacy and Reading Achievement

The “How” of Reading Instruction: The Importance of A Systematic Approach to Early Literacy and Reading Achievement

Teacher preparation and knowledge are fundamental to reading achievement. In this session, we will discuss why a systematic phonetic approach to reading instruction is classical, brain-based and e ective. Understanding how the brain functions and being knowledgeable of best practices is necessary for e ective reading instruction. We will address the obstacles that get in the way of the reading process and how
to come alongside struggling readers. Practical strategies for providing support in the grammar school classroom will be shared. Participants will be able to apply their knowledge of reading development into e ective instructional practices.

Jessica Gombert

Jessica Gombert is in her 14th year as the Grammar School Headmaster at e Geneva School of Boerne. She holds a master's degree in education and has been involved in many aspects of education for over 28 years. Her teaching experiences include special education, Kindergarten, alternative certification programs and student teacher supervision at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has a passion for encouraging students and teachers to become lifelong learners and for classical Christian education. She teaches reading in Lusaka, Zambia, in the summers and is currently writing children’s readers to supplement Geneva's phonics curriculum.

Melissa Siller

Melissa Siller a PhD candidate in interdisciplinary learning and teaching at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has spent the last 20 years in various areas of education, including assessment item writing, classroom teaching and teaching pre-service teachers in eld-based teacher education. She is currently in her sixth year as the Reading Specialist at e Geneva School of Boerne. In addition, she is an adjunct faculty member in Trinity University's Department of Education. Her research focuses on teacher education, brain- based teaching practices, curriculum and inquiry, as well as beginning in-service teacher induction support.

Motor Development and Academic Success

Most educators take for granted how our bodies operate, and how the experiences of our bodies teach us to understand the world around us. Without the incredible and finely tuned machine called our body, our brain would be at a loss to describe the world. Our ability to see, touch, feel, hear, move, and control ourselves in relationship to the environment is the slate that academic learning is etched on Motor skills are necessary for academic tasks such as reading, writing, speaking as well as for behaviors such as sitting still, paying attention and working diligently.

Jessica Gombert

Jessica Gombert is in her 14th year as the Grammar School Headmaster at e Geneva School of Boerne. She holds a master's degree in education and has been involved in many aspects of education for over 28 years. Her teaching experiences include special education, Kindergarten, alternative certification programs and student teacher supervision at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has a passion for encouraging students and teachers to become lifelong learners and for classical Christian education. She teaches reading in Lusaka, Zambia, in the summers and is currently writing children’s readers to supplement Geneva's phonics curriculum.

The Critical Components of a Thriving Grammar School

In this seminar dialogue will take place regarding how to lead teachers and faculty to ensure a thriving and successful Grammar School. Key components will be presented followed by a group discussion.

Jessica Gombert

Jessica Gombert is in her 14th year as the Grammar School Headmaster at e Geneva School of Boerne. She holds a master's degree in education and has been involved in many aspects of education for over 28 years. Her teaching experiences include special education, Kindergarten, alternative certification programs and student teacher supervision at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has a passion for encouraging students and teachers to become lifelong learners and for classical Christian education. She teaches reading in Lusaka, Zambia, in the summers and is currently writing children’s readers to supplement Geneva's phonics curriculum.

Leading in the Little Things

Most Christian school missions say something about training students to become servant leaders. As we train our students and teachers to strive for excellence, school leaders can model a biblical servant’s attitude by simply paying attention to the people around us. In the busyness of our daily jobs it is easy to forget what our families and students rely on us to provide. Time is the most valuable resource we have and the most valuable thing we can share with those we lead.

I have built one opportunity to model servant leadership into my morning routine. I work with grammar school-aged children so I choose to stand in front of the school each morning to supervise drop-off. I shake my students’ hands, call them by name, and wish them a good morning. I can encourage students, tie a few shoes, notice a lost tooth, and remind forgetful students to turn in their homework. Usually, the type of morning a student has had is evident on his face and in his demeanor. Taking a moment to give a hug and a word of encouragement is a highlight of my day. I never know when it will be the highlight for one of my students or will encourage a parent watching from a car.

Assemblies and programs are always squeezed into busy and stressful days. During one of these events, a young girl with a profound hearing loss sang a beautiful song in front of our student body. Her mother arrived late. I found her crying in the back of the building, devastated that she had missed her child’s courageous performance. I asked her to sit back down and arranged for her daughter to sing again. It was a small act on my part that impacted a family and our student body. The girl’s grandparents sent me a thank you expressing their shock that the program was rearranged for their granddaughter.

I am always surprised by the thank you notes I receive from parents who appreciate the time taken in what I would consider my less significant duties. Adjusting a microphone, giving words of encouragement, or calling a student who has been ill are gifts that require only the awareness that someone needs them. Parents who entrust their children to a school whose leaders model a servant’s attitude notice the care with which their child is treated. It is the evidence that our mission is more than just words.