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Moving Hearts and Minds Upward
More than 6,500 educators cultivate their call to ministry at Nashville Teachers Convention (Posted August 3, 2012)
BY SANDRA BLACKMER
The vital role Seventh-day Adventist educators play in the spiritual and academic development of young minds will take center stage at the 2012 North American Division K-12 Teachers Convention. During the four-day event, being held August 5-8 in Gaylord Opryland Convention Center, Nashville, Tennessee, keynote speakers and workshop presenters underscore the educator’s central call to commitment, service, and academic excellence, as well as their primary mission to lead children and youth to Christ. Some 6,500 teachers, principals, and other educators are expected to attend.
“Our goal is to cast a spiritual and professional vision for Adventist educators across the field through this convention,” Larry Blackmer, vice president for education for the North American Division, told Adventist Review. “Adventist education has distinct content and a unique value system that sets it apart from other such systems. It’s mission driven. This convention focuses on not only stellar academics but also the salvation of our kids. That is, after all, the reason Adventist education exists—and it’s the core of the convention theme, ‘Moving Hearts and Minds Upward.’”
PREPARATION TIME: The NAD Office of Education team prepares for the convention: (from left) Dennis Plubell, director for secondary; Larry Blackmer, vice president; Carol Brown, assistant to directors and associate; Davenia Lea, associate for early childhood; Carol Campbell, director for elementary; and Elaine Furrow, assistant to the vice president. PHOTO: [Sandra Blackmer]
The NAD Teachers Convention is held every six years; this is the second time it’s convening in Gaylord Opryland.
“Very few hotels or convention centers in North America can handle such a large group,” Blackmer explains.
That’s understandable when you consider not only the need for an auditorium large enough to accommodate more than 6,000 people for general sessions, but also space to house 530 professional-growth breakout sessions and 150 exhibit booths.
“We at Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center welcome the NAD Teachers Convention attendees to our extraordinarily well-equipped convention facilities and hotel,” says Michael O’Connor, vice president of conference management for the Gaylord. “We are pleased to provide them with true Southern hospitality and flawless service throughout their stay. It’s an honor and privilege to have this group as our guests.”
General session featured speakers include Carlton P. Byrd, senior pastor of Oakwood University church; Alan November, a former teacher and the senior partner and founder of November Learning, an educational consulting and resource organization; Dwight K. Nelson, senior pastor of Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of Andrews University; Todd Whitaker, professor of educational leadership at Indiana State University; and Daniel R. Jackson, president of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.
Convention attendees have no lack of options for breakout sessions. Topics range from teaching tips and classroom management, to library-resource enhancement and how to use humor in the classroom. A few specific workshops are:
• Teaching to the Emotional and Spiritual Needs of our Students by DeeAnn Bragaw
• Google Tools for Teaching and Learning by Tammy Worchester
• iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone Tips and Tricks by Patsy Lancios
• A Heritage Worth Talking About by James Nix
• Valuegenesis III—Developing Faith, Values, and Commitment in Adventist Students by Bailey Gilespie
• Characteristics of an Effective Communicator by Ken Davis
• Writing Plays for Christian Audiences by Travis Tyre
Opryland Convention Center [PHOTO: Larry Blackmer]
Springs Adventist Academy principal and 5–8-grade teacher Clint Sutton and his wife, Heidi, also a teacher, attended previous NAD Teachers Conventions, and didn’t question whether to show up again at this one. They say they enjoy the fellowship with other educators in a spiritual setting that celebrates who teachers are and what they do.
“But it’s also for prevention of burnout,” Clint adds. “We teachers so often find ourselves in ruts of routine, and hearing success stories from the best of the best in education helps to recharge us not just for the forthcoming school year, but reminds us again of why we became teachers in the first place.”
Clint adds that not only keynote speakers but also workshop presenters offer new ideas that he and Heidi often try out at their school, “whether that’s tips on fun activities in the classrooms, or time- and money-saving strategies for administrators,” he says. “This convention is the way God celebrates together with us in caring for His lambs.”
The North American Division Office of Education sponsors and organizes the event. To learn more about the convention, go to www.2012teachersconvention.com.
Sandra Blackmer is features editor of