Image Credit: Anthony White

Convention Nurtures Joyful Calling of Education

5,500 educators from North America and Guam-Micronesia went into “student mode” to learn, grow and network at the "Something Better" NAD Educators' Convention held Aug. 7–10 in Phoenix, Arizona. Among the attendees were 575 educators from North Pacific Union.

What are teachers like when they are in the student role?

They listened — fairly well — to reminders to stay hydrated, check the event app for schedule updates, line up in an approximate single file line to flow into a massive dining hall, speaker prompts for “elbow partner” discussions and finally to quiet-down prompts to rejoin the keynote sessions.

Just like students, teachers had preferences in their sitting behaviors whether sitting on the floor, standing around the room’s perimeter, sitting with friends or sitting alone.

There’s another key similarity between teacher and student behaviors: they like to talk — a lot.

“The response I’m hearing is that Oregon teachers enjoy connecting with other teachers,” said Kim Cornette, Oregon Conference associate superintendent.

The conversations typically alternated between shop talk, workshop recaps and life stories. It wasn’t uncommon to see conversations ending with heads bowed in prayer.

The keynotes, especially the opening session with Carlton Byrd, Southwest Region Conference president, sparked many conversations and recommitments to the ministry of education.

“After the challenge of the first night, my teachers are ready to go back and teach,” said John Soule, Gem State Academy principal.

Byrd, in his keynote address, expounded upon the “why” of Adventist education.

“Your calling is bigger than you,” he said. “Your calling is about expanding God’s kingdom and bringing Him glory. You have a created, customized, comprehensive and connected purpose in your life. Don’t forget why you do what you do.”

Five sets of workshops presented hundreds of options for professional development during the convention. Topics included mental health for students and teachers, food service hospitality, standards-based learning, technology integration, early childhood education, English language learning, outdoor education, school growth and much more.

Doylene Cook, an educator from Lewis County Adventist School in Chehalis, Washington, particularly appreciated a workshop on multi-grade standards-based grading.

Byron Schurch, teaching principal at Whidbey Christian School in Oak Harbor, Washington, enjoyed an interactive session where he learned how to create a student seating map to maximize the learning potential of his students.

The convention program — including daily worships, keynotes, workshops, concerts, comedy, leadership EdTalks, SparkTank innovation, the exhibit hall and more — ­focused on five C’s: clear purpose, core elements of learning, collaboration, capacity-building and commitment to growth.

“The Adventist education system takes very seriously the ministry of what our teachers are doing inside the classroom,” said Keith Hallam, NPUC vice president for education, during the event. “We are trying to fill teachers' cups, and the feedback we’re getting is that they are getting full! There’s a joy here. Adventist education is alive and thriving.”

“You teach because you know the best is yet to come!” concluded Donnett Blake, Northeastern Conference Women’s Ministries director, in her third worship presentation. “Go forward and make the commitment to stand strong. Know that the best is yet to come! Be encouraged. Stay the course. Fight for every child in your classroom. What you can’t do, God will do for you. The great reward will be seeing your students in heaven at the feet of Jesus.”