Thursday, July 12
Sarah Jones and Trevor Packer
Shortly after the conclusion of the pre-conference workshops, Trevor Packer, the College Board's vice president responsible for the Advanced Placement Program, welcomed the audience of AP teachers, administrators, coordinators, and counselors to the 2007 AP Annual Conference. Packer noted that this year's conference, with nearly 4,000 attendees braving the desert heat, was not only the largest event that the College Board had ever held, but one of the largest education conferences in the United States. He joked that there must be an abundance of AP Statistics teachers in attendance, given the locale.
Packer gave the audience a sneak preview of this year's AP results and noted that, "there were over 2.5 million AP exams taken by students—the largest one-year increase ever seen."
He commended the attendees for expanding access to the exam for students of all backgrounds, citing the increased participation of minority and low-income students. "Not only are you finding students ready for success in AP," Packer said, "but AP teachers are succeeding in delivering a high-quality of instruction to a greater diversity of students than ever before in the program's history."
Tony Award-winner Sarah Jones, whose critically-acclaimed Broadway hit Bridge & Tunnel will be coming to Los Angeles, California in September, concluded the Opening Plenary session. The multi-talented performer has a personal connection to AP: her aunt was one of the architects of the AP Art History exam. Speaking in a British accent, Jones expressed admiration for the work of the audience members, calling them "the brightest leaders in the field of secondary learning and some of the best teachers and administrators from across America and beyond."
She soon shed the accent and donned a cardigan sweater and a pair of thick glasses, transforming into Lorraine Levine, an elderly Eastern European woman—the first of her five characters. Jones's performance showcased her chameleon-like ability to portray compelling and diverse individuals. In addition to Levine, she played a young Dominican-American college student and single mother; a human rights advocate from India; Rasheed, a wannabe hip-hop MC; and an AP French teacher from the United Nations International School in New York City, which was Jones's high school.
Through her riveting and often humorous portrayals, Jones addressed themes of access and equity in education, the need to guarantee diversity of race as well as of class, the importance of the AP Program in a globalized world, and especially, the role of gifted and motivated teachers to ensure student success.