Reading/Language Arts Conference set for February


The East Carolina University College of Education will host the 29 th annual Mary Lois Staton Reading/Language Arts Conference from 1 to 6 p.m., Feb. 7 at the Murphy Center on campus.

Keynote speaker for the event is June St. Clair Atkinson, North Carolina State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Overseeing more than 1.4 million students in approximately 2,300 public schools, Atkinson has served as superintendent since August 2005. She was the first woman elected to the post.

Concurrent sessions will be provided throughout the day, focusing on literacy topics for pre-K thorugh high school educators. Participants who attend all sessions may earn 0.5 Continuing Education Units, and 1.0 CEUs may be earned with paper submission.

The conference is sponsored by the Department of Curriculum & Instruction in the College of Education. Registration is $40 and is due by Feb. 1. Contact Heather Shaw at (252) 328-6830 for registration information or visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-educ/ci/reading/MLS/index.cfm.

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Red Carpet Gala

The ECU Organization of African American Staff will sponsor a Red Carpet Gala Feb. 25 at the Murphy Center at ECU.

A meet and greet with light hors d’oeuvres will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by the program from 7 until 10 p.m. Dinner will be served at 7:30 p.m. Attire is semi-formal/formal. The evening’s theme is “Celebrating our Educators and the Power of Their Influence.” Following opening remarks by Taffye Clayton, associate provost for Equity and Diversity, several speakers will recognize and pay tribute to educators.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through the ECU Central Ticket Office (328-4788) from Jan. 31 through Feb. 18.

For more information please contact Marlene Anderson at 328-9107.

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Collaboration for teachers


The Center for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (CSMTE) at ECU held an open house for the educational community, introducing a lending library and virtual collaboration network for teachers called TeachNET.

The center has recently undergone a redesign to better serve the needs of teachers throughout eastern North Carolina. As part of this commitment to teachers, the regional lending library was unveiled at the event. This library provides access to resources that many teachers do not have access to in their schools. Teachers can access the center’s website at ecu.edu/cs-educ/csmte and search for items for their classroom to checkout.

And in response to feedback from area school personnel, the center has created an online collaboration system, TeachNET. The ECU TeachNET is an innovative platform that lets teachers across the region collaborate, access content-level experts and share lesson plans and ideas all online from their work or school computers. Many school systems are integrating iPads and iPod Touches in the classroom, so the center is also developing a mobile application that will let teachers access the TeachNET remotely in the classroom or out in the field.

The Center for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education serves eastern North Carolina with a mission to strengthen the quality and increase the size of the teaching base in mathematics and science education and increase the pool of students who graduate from North Carolina’s high schools prepared to pursue careers that require mathematics and science. CSMTE translates the findings of educational research into practices that benefit students and teachers.

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Prenatal depression research

By Crystal Baity

Studies show that pregnancy isn’t the happiest time in every woman’s life.

As a result, an East Carolina University researcher is studying the effectiveness of a program for low-income women in reducing their risk of prenatal, also called antepartum, depression, which is depression that occurs during pregnancy.

Dr. D. Elizabeth Jesse, ECU associate professor of graduate nursing science in the College of Nursing and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Brody School of Medicine, has been awarded a National Institute of Mental Health grant that will provide support for pregnant women at risk of depression.

The three-year, $640,742 grant will allow Jesse, a certified nurse midwife, to work with patients at the Pitt County Health Department and ECU Physicians’ Regional Perinatal Center. Expectant mothers are already screened for risk of depression, and those with a certain score on the assessment will be invited to enroll in Jesse’s study and the program, called Insight Plus.

Each year, up to 50 percent of pregnant women experience depressive symptoms and about 13 percent develop antepartum depression, which can mimic typical pregnancy symptoms from mood swings to fatigue or a change in sleep patterns. Up to 50 percent of women who suffer from antepartum depression also will have postpartum depression, so early intervention is important, Jesse said.

“Women who experience high stress, lack support from family and friends, have lower levels of self-esteem, suffer domestic violence, and think more negatively about themselves can be more at risk for antepartum depression,” Jesse said. “They begin to feel sad and useless.”

Women often are reluctant to talk about depression during pregnancy or ask for help because of the stigma surrounding it, and they don’t want to appear weak or risk being called a “bad mother,” Jesse said.

Insight Plus is a culturally tailored intervention to help expectant mothers build emotional support from family and friends, set goals, reduce stress, increase positive thinking and improve self-esteem. It includes spiritual-related material for those who value it. “It is my theory that by decreasing risks and increasing resources these women will improve,” Jesse said.

Those enrolled in the program will meet once a week for six weeks with a social worker and a lay assistant, called a “resource mom.” The social worker, resource mom and women will work together to identify and solve problems. Transportation and child care will be offered. Each woman will receive an MP3 player programmed with relaxation and stress reduction exercises and other homework assignments, called positive affirmations, Jesse said.

“Should the Insight Plus program prove to be feasible and effective, it will be a model for delivering care by public health staff and lay helpers,” Jesse said.

The NIH review panel said findings from the study will be highly relevant for public health because the intervention is integrated within rural prenatal clinics, including the local health department, where access to mental health resources for treating and preventing antepartum depression is limited. The panel also said the intervention is sensitive to the cultural needs of low-income African-American, Caucasian and Hispanic women, a population that has been underrepresented in previous studies.

Co-investigators at ECU are Dr. Melvin Swanson, professor of nursing; Dr. Sheila Bunch, professor of social work; and Dr. Edward Newton, chair and professor of obstetrics and gynecology. Jesse also will collaborate with colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia.

ECU offers the only nurse midwifery curriculum in North Carolina. A special intent is for graduates to assume care provider roles in rural areas to meet the needs of underserved women and infants.

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Ballard to deliver State of University address

Chancellor Steve Ballard will deliver his State of the University address at 11 a.m. Feb. 2 in Hendrix Theatre, Mendenhall Student Center.

Ballard, who joined ECU in the spring of 2004, plans to examine the university’s condition, with particular attention to the difficult budget situation facing the state.

Ballard has invited faculty, staff, students and members of the Greenville community to attend. Anyone unable to attend may view the address online at http://smart.ecu.edu/mediasite/SilverlightPlayer/Default.aspx?peid=b13ce9bc5a504ba7917e3e1710ec72971d.

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