08/02/13 — School district plans summer conference

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School district plans summer conference

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 2, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne County Public Schools' eighth annual Summer Institute will take place next week at Mount Olive College.

The free three-day conference is an opportunity for new and veteran teachers, administrators, volunteers, parents and guardians to attend workshops on a variety of topics, including academic content areas, Exceptional Children, legal issues and English as a Second Language. It is a chance for educators to obtain professional development while providing parents and guardians the opportunity to learn more about what is happening in WCPS.

The event will be held Aug. 6-8 on the Mount Olive College campus in Raper Hall. Registration can be done in advance online at waynecountyschools.org or each morning from 8:30-9 a.m.

Hosted by the district's curriculum and instruction and human resources departments, activities are scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. until 2:45 p.m.

This year's theme is STEM Education. STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, is also an acronym for "Strategies That Engage Minds," said Dr. Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

"We will have instructional sessions on STEM, family engagement, research-based teaching strategies, classroom management, integrating technology, home base, College and Career Promise, common core and essential standards, career and technical education and the list goes on," she said.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Samuel Houston, president and CEO of the N.C. Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center. Other speakers include Mark Sorrells, senior vice president of Golden LEAF Foundation, and Steve Hill, executive director of STEM East.

The workshops are beneficial to parents as well as educators, and especially for those just starting out in the profession, said organizer Kim Copeland, director of middle grades education, performing arts and Race to the To (RttT).

"Debbie Durham (director of human resources) requires those three days for first-, second- and third-year teachers," she said.

More than 80 presenters will lead the break-out sessions throughout the three days.

Tuesday's schedule kicks off at 9 a.m. with the keynote speaker during the opening general session from 9:15-10:15 a.m. in the auditorium of Raper Hall.

There will also be a Department of Defense Education Activity Partnership grant STEM Expo that day from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Seven schools in the district with a high concentration of military students -- Norwayne and Greenwood middle schools, Meadow Lane, Northwest, Northeast and Tommy's Road elementary schools and Wayne School of Engineering -- were recipients of the Department of Defense grants.

"Teachers and representatives from the seven schools that received the DoDEA grant will set up in Raper Hall, displaying project-based learning," Ms. Copeland said. "We'll also have featured at one of the sessions, those seven schools will be sharing information."

Wednesday will be Parent's Day and also offer a health fair Expo from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. featuring area agencies providing educational materials and community resources. Breakout sessions will also be geared to parents and guardians.

Thursday is Vendor's Day, with a variety of resources for educators available for teachers and administrators throughout the day.

Having the annual event at nearby MOC, Ms. Copeland said, also creates an accessible atmosphere all around.

"Professional development is right there at our fingertips without having to travel, pay for gas and hotel," said Ms. Copeland. "And the MOC cafeteria will also serve lunch, for $5.50 the meal includes beverage and dessert, so they don't even have to leave campus."

In addition to registering online, a complete schedule is provided on the district website.

The Summer Institute has been quite an undertaking for the school system, but has definitely proven worthwhile, Ms. Copeland said.

"It's an exciting time," she said. "It's massive. People get real excited about it.

"It's very well-received throughout the state. We look forward every year to planning and organizing this event for our teachers and community stakeholders."