Thursday, September 25, 2014

" A Lifetime of Memories, One Unforgettable Weekend"

" Education is not the filling of a pail but the igniting of a fire."  ~ William Butler Yeats~

The journey to NJPAECT2 began in late August with its appearance on my Twitter feed, in which presentation proposals were being solicited by conference organizers.  At first glance I was intrigued, but considering its commencement in early September I was reluctant to pursue the opportunity.  While my  long time friend and co presenter Jane Hutchison and I have been presenting in front of various audiences for the past few years, the early September date left us both feeling apprehensive. Veteran teachers with over 41 combined years of experience, we were both concerned about the successful launch of a new school year and the professional commitments required of us. While deciding on weather or not to submit a proposal, an encouraging request from conference organizer Barry Saide jump started my adrenaline and after careful reflection with Jane and the blessing of my family, we decided to pursue the opportunity.

As summer vacation was drawing to a close, I headed to Long Beach Island for a vacation with my family and awaited word on the acceptance of the proposal. Later in the week an invitation to attend the conference arrived and my excitement started to build. Eventually I found out that we would be presenting at the Edcamp on the second day. While excited and appreciative of the opportunity, I must admit the prospect of presenting in this format was challenging because it would mark our initial effort within this type of environment.

 Labor Day quickly arrived and with it the start of a new school year. As always I embraced the opportunities to build new relationships with my students and renew relationships with my peers.  Back to school night soon followed as we enthusiastically welcomed our new famiilies to the sixth grade team.  The slow pace of summer had vanished and we were settling in to the start of another school year.  As the third week of September came to a close, although exhausted I was eagerly awaiting the weekend and attending NJPAECT2.

Early in the morning on September 20th, Jane and I headed to Raritan Valley Community college for what would evolve into a weekend that neither one of us will soon forget. Unquestionably it became one of the best professional experiences of my twenty year career as an educator. The event featured some of the most inspirational and passionate people that I ever had the pleasure to enjoy a professional experience with.  Not only was the intellectual quality of the event first rate, the quality of character of the people attending was equally outstanding. I met so many people with special talents and qualities that I left both days feeling priveledged to have been invited to share this experience with them. I would be remiss, if I did not spend some time expressing my gratitude for some of the many that left an indelible mark on my heart over the course of the weekend.

Thank you Barry Saide: Your leadership was both impressive and inspirational. It is difficult to find the right words to properly convey my gratitude for being included in this experience.

Thank you Jimmy Casas and Jeff Zoul for a glimpse into what makes you both such outstanding and effective leaders. The bond that the two of you have developed made your session on "Connected Educators" , a truly authentic professional experience.

Thank you Jane Hutchison for sacrificing your weekend at what is a challenging time of year and investing in an experience that furthered our professional growth exponentially. I am blessed to have you for a friend and a partner in learning.

Thank you Glenn Robbins for providing a forum to discuss " Digital Citizenship" and for sharing your story of resilience. I was truly inspired.

Thank you Kathy Suk for hosting this event and for sharing your passion for your students, your craft and your fellow educators.  Watching you look on with such pride while your students presented Teach 2 Matter was an awesome experience.

Thank you Jeanne Muzi, for your energy and passion. Your commitment to implementing Effective Questioning Techniques in the manner that you discussed is a " Game Changer" for kids.

Thank you Spike Cook for your belief in people and your obvious commitment to making everyone that you lead, better.

Thank you Sandra Paul for your drive, your love of education and for your obvious ability to elevate the passions of others about technology and all things educational.

Thank you Steve and Catherine Isaacs for your warmth and kindness over the course of the weekend, and for sharing your expertise on gaming.

Thank you to all of you who attended the session on "Engaging and Empowering at the Middle Level." You brought a high level of excitement and passion to the conversation. Thank you for inspiring us and validating our commitment to this approach towards learning.

Finally, thank you to my family for their blessing in allowing me to pursue this opportunity for professional growth, especially over the course of a weekend. I am blessed to be a member of our family.

There were so many others who played such an important role over the course of the weekend from a logistical, a pedagogical and a spiritual perspective.  Please accept my sincerest gratitude for all that you did to make this a remarkable professional and personal experience.

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