Near the end of August, all 185 Adventist educators from the Oregon Conference descended on Gladstone for an event that hadn't been held for quite some time: an Oregon Conference Teachers Convention.
Designed with the theme of "Connection" in mind, the keynote speakers, breakout sessions and times for interaction were all designed to encourage the teachers to connect with Jesus and connect with each other as colleagues so that they could achieve their goal of connecting their students with Jesus.
Gale Crosby, Oregon Conference vice president of education, explains, "We wanted to give our educators time to come together as a education family. Teaching is a sacred calling. We wanted to show our teachers that we value them and to recognize the importance of their work. We were truly rewarded with God's spirit being present throughout the convention."
The keynote speaker, Alex Bryan, Walla Walla University Church senior pastor, shared the history of the Adventist school system and demonstrated how our schools are truly God's schools. He also brought forth a powerful personal message of the significance and influence that our teachers have with our students. He showed from Scripture that our teachers are truly called by God for the specific ministry of teaching like Jesus taught. The teachers felt empowered with his message. One teacher shared, "I was inspired by Pastor Bryan's message. It was a great reminder of how important teaching is. We have a greater purpose."
Linda Christiansen, Oregon Writing Project instructor and director, and Colonel Morris Davis also gave interesting and thought-provoking presentations.
Affirming educators was another important element of the convention. One of the ways that was accomplished was with awards and recognition.
Three long-time Oregon Conference Educators were honored at Tuesday evening's banquet with Lifetime Achievement Awards. Dick and Anita Molstead and Gil Plubell were recognized for their tireless work toward the education of young people in the Oregon Conference, the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) and North American Division (NAD).
In addition, Jenny Neil, Heidi Kruger and Dan Nicola were honored with Oregon Conference Teacher and Administrator of the Year awards, and 11 NAD and NPUC awards were given to teachers for innovation and creativity.
This year's convention was primarily planned and facilitated by the teachers themselves. Teachers brought the theme, format and overall planning into place. More than 30 breakout sessions were planned and facilitated by the teachers, covering a wide range of topics including iPads in the classroom, brain-based research, working with students with special needs, making science experiments fun, and school administration. Breakout sessions were also held by grade and subject to give teachers a chance to share ideas, experiences, and ways of connecting with their students and connecting their students with Jesus — because in the end, that's really what matters.