Aspiring teachers grow Educators Rising Conference
By Theresa Smith
GCU News Bureau
As Grand Canyon University senior Ryan McCormick listened intently to an educator’s rite of passage as captured in Harry Wong’s iconic text, “The First Days of School,” he felt like a teacher already on the job. His real-world, confident feeling was among many magical moments at the Educators Rising Arizona Fall Leadership Conference last week at GCU Arena.
For the third consecutive year, GCU’s College of Education (COE) played host to the conference as Chief Academic Officer Dr. Hank Radda delivered welcoming remarks to 641 attendees. The keynote speaker was Rachel Mann, founder of #TeachLikeTED and co-author of the book “Martians in Your Classroom,” which makes the case for all teachers to include STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in all classroom settings.
Dr. Kimberly LaPrade, COE Dean, was thrilled to see a record turnout.
“Education is in the news more than ever right now, and the demand for teachers continues to grow,’’ she said. “With the spotlight on education, I am not surprised we saw a record number of attendees at the Educators Rising conference. In addition, we have a strong GCU commitment to Educators Rising, including a GCU chapter on campus, with a dedicated faculty preparing our future teachers. I couldn’t be more proud of the work of our faculty and their students.’’
Along with students from GCU and other colleges, high school students from all over the state attended the all-day event, which is aligned with a national network for aspiring teachers. Their energy and enthusiasm was infectious.
Lillyana de la Rosa of Glendale’s Ironwood High School was among the Educators Rising Arizona officers helping with the logistics. She is motivated to be a teacher because, “I love hanging out with little kids,” she said. “I can help them prepare for life.’’
Another state officer, Emily Davison of Greenway High School, said, “I love kids and I think I can bring out their potential.’’
Several GCU faculty members were among the breakout session presenters. Assistant professor Dr. Jeff Martin stressed the importance of developing strong relationships with students to boost classroom management. Adjunct faculty member Michelle Keso shared literacy techniques for young children. COE program development specialist Preston Naegali outlined essentials for success as a future educator. “Nail Your Teaching Interview” was the topic of faculty chairperson Katie Sprute and associate professor Dr. Meredith Critchfield. Assistant professor Dr. Lisa Bernier explained strategies for helping English Language Learner (ELL) students gain proficiency in English, and assistant professors Claudia Coleman and Katy Long, who is the faculty adviser for GCU’s chapter of ER, emphasized strategies of self-reflection and goal setting.
McCormick, an elementary education major from Redlands, Calif., soaked in the expertise of presenters who taught in the K-12 ranks before becoming college professors preparing the next generation of classroom teachers. They have all been there — on the first day of school — greeting a classroom of learners.
“It was very helpful,” McCormick said. “It was about managing the first week of school, learning about all your students, learning different ways to get them to interact, and breaking the ice, because those first few days can be tough.”
With graduation looming in April, McCormick was pleased to be involved in a trial run.
“It was a unique way to experience what I am going to be doing,” he said. “It was like professional development. I am excited to grow in my profession, even though I haven’t even started yet.’’
Contact Theresa Smith at (602) 639-7457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.