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Young Harris College Faculty Attend ACA Teaching and Leadership Institute

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — Young Harris College faculty members Dr. Ben Van Dyke and Dr. Matthew Byron attended this year’s Appalachian College Association (ACA) hosts Teaching and Leadership Institute. The Institute is an opportunity for instructors to share student-centered learning theories, integrated learning, and evidence-based teaching practices. 

As a member of the ACA, Young Harris College shares a commitment to support students through exceptional teaching and learning opportunities. To these ends, YHC staff and faculty attend the Teaching and Learning Institute, an intensive, week-long workshop delivered by experts from ACA institutions.

This year, Young Harris College’s own Dr. Van Dyke, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Faculty Director of the First-Year Experience, was selected to promote pedagogical development and innovation as an instructor. 

“This was my second year attending the ACA TLI’s Teaching and Learning Track,” said Dr. Van Dyke. “When I learned this year’s theme focused on student success, I knew it was a great opportunity for me to build on my positive experience last year by applying to return as an instructor.”

As a faculty instructor for the 2023 Teaching and Learning Institute, Dr. Van Dyke led “Enhancing Student Success with Lessons from Motivational Interviewing.” This session focused on using Motivational Interviewing (MI) tools and techniques to help students increase their engagement, motivation, and success. The topics discussed include assessing student readiness for change, helping them self-assess values and goals, and identifying barriers to behavior change, all connected to Growth Mindset and Self-Determination Theory.

“One of the most impactful aspects of the experience each year is the opportunity to form meaningful connections with and learn from colleagues at other, similar institutions,” commented Dr. Van Dyke. “The interactions with the other instructors and participants during and between the sessions have once again energized me and helped me hone my own teaching as I prepare for the Fall semester.  I highly recommend this professional development opportunity for anyone who wants to reinvigorate their joy for teaching!”

Young Harris College’s Chair of the Department of History, Dr. Byron, participated in the Leadership track of the institute which offered workshops to faculty and staff who were in administrative positions or likely to be so in the near future.  Led by experienced administrative leaders, these workshops focused on leadership style, conflict resolution and the future of higher education.  

“The Institute offered practical information about the current landscape of higher education and the potential problems administrators might face in the coming years,” said Dr. Byron. “To assist us in developing approaches to these problems, the institute leaders walked us through numerous case studies based on their own experiences. This process was extremely valuable in helping me understand the complexities of administration and being prepared for what issues may arise at Young Harris College.”

The Appalachian College Association is a consortium of independent colleges and universities in central Appalachia. Since 1990, this organization has served the Appalachian region through its support of faculty, staff, and students of its member institutions. Together, members of this consortium can do more than they could otherwise do alone. The ACA provides faculty research fellowships, student research funding, faculty and staff professional development, an online Center for Teaching and Learning, an online library, and digital archives. 

About Young Harris College

Young Harris College is a private baccalaureate and master’s degree-granting institution located in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires, and empowers students through an education that purposefully integrates the liberal arts and professional studies. The College has four academic divisions: Fine Arts; Humanities; Mathematics, Science, and Technology; and Professional Studies. Approximately 1,400 students are enrolled in its residential and Early College programs. The College is an active member of the NCAA Division II and remains a fierce competitor in the Conference Carolinas. For more information, visit