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Innovative teaching expert speaks here Tuesday

Feb. 13, 2008

KALAMAZOO--An award-winning and motivational expert on teaching will visit the Western Michigan University campus Tuesday, Feb. 19, to present his innovative teaching methods to a local audience.

Billy Staples, who left a national corporate sales position in 1991 to pursue a teaching career and develop a unique, award-winning teaching style, will speak at 7 p.m. in the East Ballroom of the Bernhard Center. His presentation is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the WMU College of Education and WMU chapters of Kappa Delta Pi, an education honors society, and Phi Delta Kappa, a fraternity for professional educators.

Whether it's jumping on desks, introducing students to celebrities or taking classes to televised shows in New York, Staples methods in the classroom have attracted widespread attention and acclaim. He was named Who's Who Teacher of the Year and was nominated for Disney's National Teacher of the Year. In 2003, CNN did a five-part series on Staples and two former students. One of those students, whose father was murdered shortly before entering Staples' school, credits Staples with helping him turn his life around and become the first person in his family to attend college.

Staples' philosophy of "Learning + Fun = Knowledge Retention" produced measurable results that surprised parents, teaching peers and administrators. Staples' goal was simple: make learning an adventure and his classroom a place students didn't want to leave, whether it meant combining music and poetry or impersonating the famous TV detective Columbo.

Students who put in real effort were rewarded with a trip to meet a well-known athlete or entertainer. The visits were not autograph sessions--they were a chance for his students to meet the person behind the celebrity and find out who these accomplished people were before they became famous. They included the likes of Derek Jeter and Michael Jordan.

A baseball fan, Staples achieved great success both on and off the field. He was a star high school player, coached two high school championship teams and worked hard to secure interviews with some of the game's greatest legends. His interviews resulted in the book, "Before the Glory: 20 Baseball Heroes Talk about Growing Up and Turning Hard Times into Home Runs." The book has been well received both inside and outside sports circles and in the national press. Many of his students have benefited by being able to visit Staple's baseball heroes.

Staples also set out to help pay for the college education of deserving Bethlehem high school students. In 2004, he co-founded CAPERS of the Lehigh Valley Inc. To date, the organization has sent more than 57 financially challenged students to college without a single dropout.

In addition to Staples' evening presentation, he will lead a session earlier that day at 2 p.m., also in the Bernhard Center's East Ballroom, geared toward intern and pre-intern teachers. After his evening presentation, Staples will sign copies of his book, which can be purchased for $15.

Reservations are not required, but early arrival is recommended.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
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