Friday, November 25, 2011

A Wonderful Conference for Which I am Deeply Thankful

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day. It was a day to spend with family and friends which I, thankfully, got to do. Beyond getting together with family for great food and fellowship, however, Thanksgiving is also a day intended to help people slow down just a bit and consider for at least part of the day all the various blessings they have for which to be deeply grateful.

This week, I have been basking in the glow and have been feeling deeply grateful for the wonderful Instructional Conference that the Virginia Education Association hosted last weekend (see my last posting for details). That event may well have been the pinnacle of my VEA Presidency, for I truly cannot imagine an event that will represent more fully what I hoped to accomplish when I ran for the office of President of the VEA in 2007-08.

One of my few campaign promises, you see, was to bring back a full time Instruction and Professional Development Department and its accompanying conference. We had eliminated the conference years ago, and at the time that I ran for office, the individual who headed up the IPD Department was only a half-time director.

Now, while we still only have a part-time director of the Office of Teaching and Learning, there is a staff of other individuals who are full time who have taken up the various responsibilities of a division focused on teacher licensure, education policy, and leadership training. And last weekend, we launched what I hope will become the annual Instruction and Professional Development Conference that so many of our members have missed since it was eliminated from our annual calendar.

This particular event was special for me even beyond the fact that we were reinstating the conference, however. We premiered a film that I believe will have deep impact on our membership in a way that may not even be seen yet. The story of the Mitchell 20 ( is a powerful one, and the individual at the center of the story, Daniela Robles, was on our panel Friday night. In addition to Daniela, though, we also had on the powerhouse panel of education experts the following individuals: Dr. Mary Futrell, a founding member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and former President of the NEA, the VEA, and Education International; Dennis Van Roekel, President of the NEA; Governor Bob Wise, Chair of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and President of the Alliance for Excellence in Education; and Nancy Flanagan, a former Teacher of the Year from Michigan, and current blogger and education consultant.

As far as I was concerned, it was a star-studded event and I couldn't have been more pleased with the caliber of the panel or their thoughtful remarks and discussion after the viewing of the film.

Saturday also went well, and I have heard nothing but positive feedback from those in attendance. Everyone wants the conference to be even bigger and better next year with more offerings.

So, this week, while I am grateful for my family and friends and for all of the support I have as I wind down my term as President of the VEA (I am term limited and will therefore leave in July 2012) I am very grateful for all of the contributions that were made toward making this conference happen. They know who they are and I have thanked each and every one of them personally and publicly. It was truly a team effort, and I am very grateful for their individual and collective contributions to what was, for me, a stellar event and one that I will long remember as a highlight of my term as President of the VEA.

Until next time.