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Summer leadership conference inspires about 300 educators

Dr. David Rostetter, a retired associate professor of graduate and undergraduate courses in inclusive education and diversity at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York, is the keynote speaker at the UCPS Summer Leadership Conference. (Below) Seasoned educators make up a panel discussions to address various topics of interest. Pictured, from left, are Director of Secondary Education Brad Breedlove, Monroe High School Classrooms of Tomorrow teacher Katina Broadus, instructional technology mentor teacher from Porter Ridge High Ryan Williams, Classrooms of Tomorrow teacher from Piedmont Middle Andrew Contafio and instructional technology facilitator from Piedmont Garrett Williams.

Union County Public Schools educators spent two days honing their skills at the school system's annual two-day Summer Leadership Conference, held this year on June 17 and 18 at Piedmont High School. 

The approximately 300 in attendance included principals, assistant principals, directors and some Central Services staff.

Porter Ridge Elementary Principal Lisa Taylor said the conference reinforced some of the initiatives implemented at her school. The discussions also helped with some ideas on which she had been brainstorming. “It’s exciting to hear about things I’ve already started and am interested in.”

“We started inclusion last year and are now ready to go much farther with it,” Taylor said. “Part of it was inclusion and part of it was pullout. It was very exciting for me to find out the county is going in that direction. We started PBIS (positive behavior intervention support) two years ago and we’re ready to take it to the next level.”

Twelve-year-veteran educator Ronnie West is new to the assistant principal role. He will begin in this new capacity at Forest Hills High School this fall.

“I think the most important thing that I’m taking away from this conference is I’m getting a clear idea of the direction of the district, what the future is going to look like,” West said. “We’re learning about how the classrooms are changing and how teaching is evolving, which is a great thing. I think the schools should be leaders in the community with innovation and introducing new ideas. And that’s the vibe that I’m getting from today’s sessions.”

One of the event organizers, UCPS Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Dr. John Jones, said the topics chosen for this year’s summer leadership conference were based on the needs of the district and “where it’s headed strategically.”

Breakout sessions were broken into elementary and secondary groups, and offered discussions in digitizing traditional teaching practices, the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition) Model. There was also panel discussions, involving seasoned educators, who spoke on various topics of interest.

Another topic of discussion was the multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) for behavior, a holistic approach to put systems of support in for all students, Jones said.

Human resources was also a subject of interest. “We know that human relations continues to provide opportunities for learning how we manage the teachers and staff involved with schools,” Jones said.

The keynote speaker for the conference was Dr. David Rostetter, a retired associate professor of graduate and undergraduate courses in inclusive education and diversity at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York.

He spoke on how to increase the achievement for all students. “Children have rights,” he said. “It’s your job to secure those rights. You must give serious consideration to what the family wants, but you have to do what’s in the best interest of the child, not the parents. Your behavior is governed by law.”

Rostetter said that rather than divide students into various learning groups, educators should think of all students as merely learners. “Kids are more alike than they are different.”

“You have to remember that special education is a service not a place,” Rostetter said. “If those things are internalized, they can really change how people think. These are critical in helping change people’s approach to children.”

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe - UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Jun 18, 2015 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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