As you’ve seen on the BioRx blog, Author Shannon Ralph is 2015’s Kansas Teacher of the Year. She’s spending part of her semester traveling and speaking on behalf of Kansas teachers. Keep up with her KTOY adventures here on the blog and on her Twitter page.
Last week’s KTOY travels took me to a part of the state I had never visited before. The KTOY team presented to Benedictine College in Atchison. What a beautiful part of the state! I enjoyed the rolling hills and dense foliage we don’t see as much in western Kansas. Our presentation at Benedictine was in an amazing new building – the inlay of the school logo when we walked in was stunning. Our room was full with about 85 pre-service teachers who welcomed our message and left enthused about their decision to teach for their career. When the team went down to take our picture by the school logo (as per our custom), we were even photo-bombed by one of their students – such a fun group!
The next morning we were at The University of St. Mary in Leavenworth. The venue was more of an auditorium style, but the students were just as engaged and just as enthusiastic. We were honored to have the 2014 Kansas Teacher of the Year visit us during this time. Jeff Baxter always carries such positive energy. Following our presentation, the staff and their Teachers of Promise honored us with a delicious lunch. We had a great meal accompanied by great conversation. Each college prep program we attend reinforces for me that we have an amazing amount of talent coming into the field of education. I am reassured our K-12 students of the future are in good hands!
Friday, March 27th I visited K-State University, the site of this year’s spring conference for the Association of Teacher Educators – Kansas. Stevie Chepko, the Senior Vice Presidentpf Accreditation for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation gave the keynote presentation. I arrived a few minutes early, and because I was seated by Stevie, we had about 15 minutes to visit about accreditation of teacher preparation programs and the direction education is taking. I found we had MUCH in common, and feel strongly that the Next Generation Science Standards, along with Common Core – which teach higher level analytical skills – are on target for meeting 21st Century Student goals. Her focus of course was HOW to implement pedagogy that supports these standards. I really appreciated that CAEP seems to understand that there must be room for failure and reimplementation in our teacher prep programs. This type of thinking goes right along with how the Biology Rocks! Curriculum was developed, so of course I supported her message.
I gave the luncheon keynote to the room of Deans of Education from prep programs across the state. I was warmly received, and because my message echoed Stevie’s, it seemed to positively impact my listeners. My favorite part: following my keynote I did a session for their student strand of the conference “Using Inquiry Instruction to Build Growth Mindsets.” I connected with a long time acquaintance, Dr. Tonnie Martinez, who now teaches some education classes at K-State. I also had a couple of former students in the audience – Ethan Hutchcraft and Dara Denton – who are preparing for their own teaching careers. It was SO fun to present to this group.
Following my day in Bluemont Hall, I had the privilege of connecting with several former Biology students who are currently attending K-State and also doing research of their own!
Jenny Delzeit, Michael Zuniga, Sarah Schuetze and Marco Saucedo – these are amazing students and my heart is busting with pride at their work. It was an amazing week. This week I’m off to the Wichita and Salina areas.
Until then – rock on!