The Teachers as Scholars Professional Development Project at the University of North Dakota provided K - 12 teachers the opportunity during the school day to immerse themselves in discussion and reflection upon scholarly issues in a seminar setting with fellow teachers. The project was different from all other professional development programs available to teachers at that time. Based on the philosophy that teachers must themselves be scholars in order to promote students as scholars, teachers were encouraged to consider any seminar topic regardless of what grade level or subject area they taught. The focus of the program was teacher scholarship and not classroom practice or application. It was intended as a gift for teachers themselves.
Teachers as Scholars offered between five and eight seminars each year of the project. Each seminar was held on the campus of the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and was two days in length. Seminars were offered to teachers from project member schools at no cost. Additionally, substitute teacher expenses were covered through arrangement. Each seminar was also available for graduate credit under the auspices of the Universities Continuing Education Department. University faculty members led the seminars and were chosen specifically for their respective topical enthusiasm and engaging instructional style. All of the seminars were designed to be participatory experiences. To foster an atmosphere of discussion and interaction, seminar attendance was limited to 20 teachers per session.
The Project was originally administered by two coordinators, Ms. Lyn Willoughby, formerly of the Grand Forks Area Teacher Center, and Dr. Sara Fritzell Hanhan, Associate Provost and Professor of Teaching and Learning.
At present, despite extensive efforts to find sustaining financial support for the Teachers as Scholars project, the project activities have been suspended and TAS is in hiatus. Teachers in this region still speak fondly of their experiences of the program and significant project evaluation data was gathered.