By Shelley Handley
Six months ago, Glendale Community College’s Education program began planning for the Maricopa County Community College District’s annual educator’s conference that was held in the Student Union building in room 104 on Oct. 30. Nancy Oreshack, Assistant Department Chair of the Education department, expected over 250 people from the ten colleges to attend.
Thus, GCC’s education students had much to plan and accomplish beyond check-in tables and center pieces for 30 conference tables.
“Lots of work and lots of people helping to pull it all together” made this event successful, Oreshack said. The role of educators in civic engagement and advocacy was this year’s theme. John-David Bowman, 2015 Arizona Teacher of the Year, was the keynote speaker.
Bowman, a Westwood High School History teacher in Mesa, focused his hour-long presentation on “Why Civic Engagement Matters.”
Afterwards, from 10 a.m. until noon, education students spread out into three main areas of the campus to attend two of the 11 specific breakout sessions.
GCC students Jorge Romero, physical education major and Esperanza Carranza, elementary education major, chose the iCivics Overview presentation taught by Terresa Welsh, Secondary Social Studies Curriculum specialist for Mesa Public Schools. Welsh, a 23-year experienced teacher, introduced attendees to an educational website that helps educate youth about government.
iCivics.org was founded by Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Justice O’Connor became concerned over the public ignorance concerning the branches of government, so she founded a nonprofit web site. This fun, free source offers print-and-go lessons plans for teachers and award-winning video games and digital interactives to students.
This site can also be used by parents to help engage youth and adults in learning the different branches of government and our civic roles.
Other seminars discussed ways to eliminate hate in communities, develop routines and procedures, reduce teacher workload using effective strategies, connect with parents, use Be A Learning Hero web tools, engage families for student success, get students to use higher thinking skills by asking questions, implement classroom management, organize groups and motivate individuals, understand and use differentiated instruction.
“The breakout sessions give students the opportunity to learn from experienced teachers. Those who are able to attend these district conferences, have a head start into becoming prepared first-year teachers,” Heather Merrill, GCC education faculty and conference co-chair, said.
Students were also given time to meet and speak with three 2015 Arizona Education Foundation Ambassadors for Excellence and conference presenters: Kaci Heins, science teacher at Northland Preparatory Academy, Flagstaff; Kevin Kehl, biology teacher at Andrada Polytechnic High School, Vail; and Jeffry Taylor, environmental science teacher, Flagstaff High School, Flagstaff.
The remaining afternoon was spent in informative dialogue with Stacia Nuquin, Consumer reporter/anchor for 12 News, AZ House Representative Heather Carter serving in the Centennial Legislature, and Donna Davis from Expect More Arizona, The Movement for World-Class Education.
“What is the purpose of public education in a democratic society?” and “Civic Engagement and Advocacy” was the focus that congruently flowed through all three sections of each of these interactive presentations.
Investor participants included the Arizona Educational Foundation, the Rodel Foundation of Arizona, AZ Representative Heather Carter, Expect More Arizona, MCCCD board members, K-12 school board members, superintendents, principals and other community leaders. MCCCD students who attended the seven hour conference were given a Certificate of Professional Development for 5.5 clock hours. Lunch and breakfast was provided.
Special appreciation was noted for Grand Canyon University for serving a full breakfast to approximately 260 attendees.