On Wednesday, February 8th, I was privileged to meet 53 other educators from all across the nation. I was not quite prepared for the journey that I was about to embark on. I am actually having a rather difficult time putting it into words. The National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) Conference was held for 3 fast paced days in Dallas, Texas. The dynamic group of educators that represented their respective states immediately became my ‘life blood’.
It’s been said that people naturally gravitate towards others that are similar to themselves. Not only did we gravitate, we were magnetized by mindset! Never in my life have I felt such a strong bond between a group of people that I barely knew. There’s something to be said about teachers and the special characteristics that we possess. We can walk into a room and immediately feel it with joy. We are happy to break the silence and let our voices be heard. We are contagious with passion!
The State Teachers were given the opportunity to share a few of their strongest skills during a lightning lesson. Imagine soaking up this robust information from teacher leaders across the nation. My cup was running over. We were also trained on education policy and history by very prestigious organizations. The previous National Teachers of the Year facilitated small and large groups on learning network and pedagogical skills. We identify our role and the Council of Chief State School Offices also known as the CCSSSO, along with Andy Goodman helped us tell our story! If you are interested in learning more about Andy Goodman and his incredible story telling skills visit The Goodman Center.
We were lavished with wonderful informational to take back to our classrooms along with a few extra pounds due to the plethora of delicious food that was offered to us. Meeting Renee Zellweger and seeing her concern for education was a highlight of the conference as well. What a great way for a celebrity to make an impact.
On our very last night we closed the conference by hearing words of wisdom from none other than Mrs. Jahana Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year! Her encouraging words filled my soul with desire to be a trailblazer for students. She inspired us to stand firm in our role and be willing to take risk by “playing in the snow”.
I am so grateful for this journey that I am on and even more grateful for my new NTOY family. I left this conference feeling eager and empowered. Ready to take on my body of work and make an impact for the students in my state! I AM the 2017 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year and I am striving for better opportunities for all students.