More than 70 Walton County educators went to class this weekend (January 30 and 31, 2015) but instead of teaching students they learned from each other. The Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching Walton County conference led and inspired by teachers was held at the Watercolor Inn and Resort in Santa Rosa Beach, FL. This conference brought together teachers, instructional coaches and administrators to share best practices and discuss issues shaping the teaching profession. This was made possible by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Additional sponsors include St. Joe Foundation, Walton Education Foundation, G&S Glass and Supply Inc., Alys Beach, Woodford Capital, Watercolor Inn and Resort, Davis Properties of Northwest Florida, Inc., and SRB Screen Printing.
In addition to celebrating and elevating effective teaching, the conference goals were: increase teacher awareness of strategies to maximize student success, empower teacher collaboration and conversation, and inform teachers of pathways to leadership. Teachers were inspired by speakers such as Dorina Sackman, the 2014 Florida Teacher of the Year, and Brian Dassler, the FLDOE Deputy Chancellor. Walton County teachers attended workshops presented by their peers on topics such as; Engaging Students Through Technology, C.E.O. Leadership K-12, Teachers Leading the Wave of Change, and Whole Brain Teaching.
MH Carr, Executive Director of the Walton Education Foundation, attended the event this past weekend. She was there to promote WEF to the teachers and administrators that the Walton Education Foundation is here to support them through classroom mini-grants, special events like this one, and many more. Nick Borthwick from South Walton High School presented on “Engaging Students Through Technology” and praised the Walton Education Foundation for its Mini-Grants. Nick said by being the recipient of a WEF Mini-Grant for the past few years, he has been able to provide tablets for all students to use in his classroom.
Direct ways the foundation was able to help in the preparation and presentation of the event were by providing place cards for all meals. Teachers sat in their colleague circles at every meal so WEF created special place cards to brighten their day!
It was a great event and we hope to be able to support more events like this in the future!