Friday, January 31, 2014

National Teacher of the Year Conference, Scottsdale, Arizona

I missed "Snow Day Week" in West Virginia last week while attending the first national conference of the year with all of the other state teachers of the year across the country for 2014. It was held in Scottsdale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. Not only was it warm and dry (not rubbing it in, but getting off the plane in BWI was like stepping back into a refrigerator), but it was great professional development for teacher leaders. We had sessions on policy making, career lattices versus career ladders, public relations, and using social media. One day was also training on the new SMART technology products we will be receiving for our classroom as part of being named a state teacher of the year. It was also a chance for all of us to meet each other before April, when we will all be recognized at the White House.
The hotel where our conference was held. It had a very "groovy," 1960s vibe to the decor :-) 

Pool view
Palm trees - and sunshine!!!
Are you feeling warm yet?
Main Street 
Not the West Virginia hills, but still gorgeous
Arizona Canal
View from the rooftop of the Hotel Valley Ho
Fountain in the town square
Horseshoe Fountain
Another cactus - hey, we don't have these in West Virginia :-)
I am still a little wiped out from last week, in addition to the other engagements and appearances I've made this month (see next blog post). It's not so much being physically tired as much as it has been a lot of information in a short period of time - the Mental Olympics. There's a lot more I could say about this experience, except right now I'm still decompressing a bit. My favorite sessions were social media and using the media to share your message.
Opening Session
All of the State and Territory Teachers of the Year 
I am looking forward to using my new SMART board and document camera in my classroom - when I am home at Tomahawk again. All of the technology is in the projector - it will project on any flat, white surface, and you only have to use you finger to manipulate it. There is a cube that comes with the document camera that allows you to manipulate 3-D content on the SMART board. Amazing doesn't quite describe it.
The SMART Board in action
Document camera and "The Cube"
We had some free time in the evenings to see a lot of Scottsdale. Thursday is the Gallery Walk at night, where all of the art galleries are lit and open to showcase their work. It's beautiful to see the city all it up at night, right down to the palm trees.
Bronco Statue
Glass Blowing
We took a horse and carriage ridge around the city :-)
Andy Warhol Museum
Just a statue I thought looked neat in the dark :-)
Lights everywhere - they leave them up all year long!
Petunias in January? Yes, please!
Lights going all the way up the palms!

I also had the opportunity to meet Rae Ellen McKee, the 1991 West Virginia and National Teacher of the Year, at our closing dinner on Saturday night. Rae taught Title I Reading at Slanesville Elementary in Hampshire County. She now lives in Houston, Texas. I'm actually going to be presenting to the students at Slanesville Elementary next month.
"Paparazzi" shot after dinner
With Michele Foreman, 2001 National Teacher of the Year, and Rae McKee
With Monica Beane, WV Teacher of the Year coordinator, and Rae McKee
It was a very full, exciting four-and-a-half days...and I came right back into more things to share and represent the education profession to others this year. While I was in Scottsdale, my uncle passed away. He was my Aunt Dawn's brother. I didn't get to see him much, but before all of this started I came over and showed him my pictures from Germany this summer when I was with the Transatlantic Outreach Program. He had been to Germany during the era of Checkpoint Charlie, and loved comparing pictures decades apart. It's things like this that put a lot of things, like "awards season," in perspective. We get caught up in the moment, on a fast moving train, and then life happens and pulls you back to reality. What really matters is who you are to those closest to you. So I'm writing this with a sad spot in my heart - and a little guilt for being too zoned in on my own train ride.

One last picture of Arizona

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