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Did you know that it’s not only writers and editors who influence how textbooks are developed? Each year, Macmillan Learning invites a group of outstanding graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) to participate in the Bedford New Scholars program. During this weeklong event, scholars attend numerous focus groups and workshops centered around advancing pedagogy in composition courses.
Who are the Bedford New Scholars?
Bedford New Scholars are GTAs studying and teaching in English who are passionate about innovating student learning. Graduate programs in Composition & Rhetoric across the country nominate candidates and then the Macmillan Learning Composition team selects the year’s cohort, usually around ten GTAs. Over a week in June, the cohort participates in a number of professional development activities, including presentations from leading experts in the field, and then have the opportunity to share “Assignments That Work,” their own successful teaching assignments in blog posts on the English Community Site. The scholars have a range of interests, including ESL studies, digital literacy, accessibility, rhetorical genre studies, transnational and indigenous literacies, and LGBT representation.
The Bedford New Scholars program has grown exponentially, with over 110 participating scholars since its launch in 2008. Previous scholars continue to carry on the program’s legacy of innovation and service to the field long after their time in the program.
From surprising twists in their careers to new teaching opportunities, let’s take a look at where some of the Bedford New Scholars are now.
Where Are They Now?
Gina Atkins participated in the Bedford New Scholars program in 2021. She was nominated by her professor and mentor Dr. Fedukovich from North Carolina State University, who she credits fostering her love of composition and rhetoric. Gina is currently in the third year of her PhD program at the University of Wisconsin Madison and serves as the Assistant Director for the Writing Across the Curriculum program. She cherished the community amongst the Bedford New Scholars and gained valuable insights from her peers. She enjoyed fellow Bedford New Scholar Leah Washburn’s Assignments That Work: Dungeons and Dragons in the Composition Classroom in particular. This assignment introduced essay prompts through the context of Dungeons and Dragons and asked students to engage in the writing process.
Gina believes that learning about Macmillan Learning’s DEI initiative and practices helped her to evaluate how she could align these goals in her classroom and research. The insights she has gained from the BNS has trailed into her career as she is currently working on an article that examines “the theoretical and, more importantly, the pedagogical importance of examining multiracial rhetorical practices and how it can help us redefine what racial literacy looks like in the writing classroom.” Check out Gina’s Assignment That Works: Teaching Stages of Revision and Peer Editing (The Ariana Grande Assignment) here.
Madhura Nadarajah is an English PhD candidate exploring research in Cultural Rhetorics, Postcolonial Theory and Tamil Cultural Production at the University of Oregon (UO). She also serves as the Assistant Director of the Composition program at UO where she organizes undergraduate and graduate courses and provides campus wide support for instructors. She was a Bedford New Scholar in 2022 and was nominated for the program by Nick Recktenwald, the former director of the Composition program at UO.
Madhura is grateful for the Bedford New Scholars program citing that participating propelled her career by renewing her understanding of how to support writing students in the classroom. She also valued the sense of community and came to appreciate the diversity among the scholars, highlighting that she “learned so much about everyone’s important yet different approaches to writing studies.” Madhura’s Assignment That Works: Social Literacy Narrative prompted students to write a letter reflecting and exploring their experiences with social literacy.
Michael S. Garcia
Michael Garcia was a Bedford New Scholar in 2020. He was nominated by Kimberly Harrison, the director of the Composition program at Florida International University, Miami. His Assignment That Works: Discourse Community Profile asked students to examine how language is used to express a community’s identity. Michael expressed that the most valuable part of being a Bedford New Scholar was learning about academic publishing. He explained, “Learning about the publication process gave me the insight I needed to decide that I wanted to transition from teaching full-time to working in educational publishing.”
Michael landed a job at Macmillan Learning a year later where he works as an Assistant Editor in content development for the Humanities division. Michael credits the Bedford New Scholars program for changing the trajectory of his career and life in a positive way. These days, Michael spends a lot of time organizing data and key information and managing the English Community Site which houses the Bedford New Scholar community and the Bedford Bits blog. Michael has come full circle, from being a Bedford New Scholar to managing the content of the Bedford New Scholars program!
By fostering an environment centered around a passion for student learning, the Bedford New Scholars program has shaped and continues to shape the lives of its previous participants. And with that being said, the torch is now being passed to the Bedford New Scholars of 2023. This June, Macmillan Learning will welcome ten new scholars to its 2023 cohort.
Sherry Mooney, the coordinator for this year’s program, has loved getting to know this new group of inspiring GTAs, saying, “We are excited to have this great cohort of scholars helping us to expand our culture of innovation, broaden our understanding of the current state of the composition classroom, and inspire us and each other to meet the challenges in the field today.”
Excited to see what our 2023 Bedford New Scholars will share? Head on over to the Bedford New Scholars page on the English Community Site and read a blog or two!