Current, future teachers gather at Education Leadership Conference

Students and teachers met at College of the Canyons to hear a keynote address from 2015 California Teacher of the Year Maggie Mabery at the Education Leadership Conference on Friday, May 19, 2017. Christina Cox/The Signal

For the second year, College of the Canyons (COC) welcomed current and future educators to its campus to take part in an all-day Education Leadership Conference Friday.

The conference included 16 breakout sessions, with four sessions occurring at the same time, so each participant could hear from different speakers and gain access to educational resources.

“I wanted to have a wide variety of speakers so people could choose their own conference,” COC’s TEACH Director and STEM/CTE Director Renee Marshall said.  “I wanted it to be beneficial to them and we really try to find speakers that not only engage them in the session but also hang out and offer advice.”

The breakout sessions included information for attendees interested in early childhood and preschool education, K-12 education, special education, career technical education and higher education, with focus on permits, credentials, classroom standards, STEM education and classroom leadership.

Speakers include local high school principals, assistant superintendents from the Newhall School District and Sulphur Springs Union School District, founders of preschools, leaders in Santa Clarita Valley Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) and leaders in career technical education.

It also included representatives from CSUN, CalState Bakersfield, Cypress College, University of La Verne, the SCV Education Foundation, the SCV PTA and California Credit Union.

“It’s bringing anyone in the area who’s interested in education together,” Marshall said.  “We also invite different partners so students have direct access to resources… It’s a really great group.”

Funding from the COC Associated Student Government, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, Cypress College and California Credit Union helped bring the speakers, food and refreshments to Friday’s conference.

“I started talking with different friends and colleagues and Cypress College paid for our keynote speakers,” Marshall said.  “Everyone picked up little pieces to make it happen.”

A highlight for the event included a key note address from 2015 California Teacher of the Year Maggie Mabery.

Currently, Mabery works as an assistant principal at Hickory Elementary School in the Torrance Unified School District.  But before she moved into administration, Mabery worked as a teacher at Manhattan Beach Middle School as a science teacher for 14 years.

In her keynote, Mabery addressed the importance of teachers fully implementing technology in the classroom to make an impact on students and engage them in discussions.

Using examples from her classroom, Mabery detailed how she used apps and tablets to create interactive video labs and movie projects where students described photosynthesis and cells.

“We can no longer ask kids to leave these devices at the door,” Mabery said.  “Technology creates this collaboration network within your classroom which is amazing… I gave voice to kids in classes that didn’t really have one and it was this technology that helped it happen.”

Mabery also highlighted the state’s move to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the need for every teacher to begin combining different subjects into their lessons.

“STEM education has taken this huge shift since we have married math and science together,” she said.  “NGSS is new and it’s starting to hit hard this school year.”

However, Mabery noted that the most important role of a teacher is developing connections with his or her students and teaching them about character.

“I think character is one of the most important traits that any person can have,” she said.

Mabery also shared how “super” teachers are because they share their passion and inspiration with students each and every day, while supporting their fellow teachers along the way.

“I’m only better because of my team that I work with daily,” she said.  “This wasn’t a journey I ever took by myself.  This was a journey I took with a whole lot of people with a whole lot of support and help.”

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