COLUMBUS, Miss. -- Melinda Lowe believes in giving back to the community and helping teachers.
As director of Outreach and Innovation and coordinator of education in the Division of Education at Mississippi University for Women, Lowe has been actively involved in supporting teachers at every level. That’s why Lowe is so excited about the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching (ECET2) – Golden Triangle convening March 1-2 at The W.
This is the second year in a row The W has received a grant to serve as host for the conference, which was born out of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s desire to improve and enhance teachers’ professional growth and development; reduce the sense of isolation from their peers; and enhance their voices as leaders and advocates in their classrooms, schools, districts and communities.
“Celebrating teachers and teaching is at the heart of the ECET2-GT convening,” Lowe said. “Teachers are too often underappreciated, so the opportunity to change the way teachers approach their futures in the profession by giving them the space to celebrate themselves and their work naturally develops a positive and dynamic synergy. Good food, nice venues, social activities, and tokens of appreciation allow attendees to feel honored and appreciated.”
Last year, 122 teachers attended the event in September 2017 at The W. It was one of two convenings in the state of Mississippi and 38 in the region. This year, Lowe said 136 teachers have registered and that excitement is “definitely building.” She said the hope is to have 150 teachers attend the event, which is being funded through a $24,000 grant The W received for the 2018-19 funding cycle. There have or will be 48 regional convenings this funding cycle. The Golden Triangle convening is the only one in Mississippi.
Lowe said the goal of the ECET2-GT is to bring together teachers in the spirit of collaboration and learning. She said teachers then can work together to harness the power of teacher leader networks to deepen learning and to improve the teaching practice to better serve students.
“Deliberate networking opportunities throughout the convening serve to expand teachers’ connections within their school district, as well as the other districts within the Golden Triangle,” Lowe said. “This networking enables teachers to know that even if they are isolated within their team, school, or district, they can still draw upon the strength and knowledge of their ECET2 colleagues.
“Teachers are always looking for new and exciting ideas and resources for their classrooms. The breakout sessions and the innovative idea fair will allow teachers to learn new skills and techniques, access actionable tools and information, and build their capacity to develop into teacher leaders.”
Lowe said this is the last year of grant funding, so there won’t be any more ECET2-GT convenings unless a new source(s) of funding can be found. She said her goal is to help locate a new source of funding.
“The overall positive nature of the day was such a boost for the teachers,” said Lowe, who worked for the Columbus Municipal School District for 16 years as an elementary teacher, curriculum coordinator, professional development.
She also she developed the STAR New Teacher Induction program. “We are looking forward to re-creating that excitement during this year’s convening.”
Lowe received her bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Mississippi State University and her master of education in educational leadership from The W. Lowe is a National Board Certified Teacher, IC3 certified and has conducted numerous trainings for educators, parents and various non-profit organizations.
On Friday, March 1, teachers will hear from April Moore, of Annunciation Catholic School in Columbus, whose keynote speech is titled, “What Will My Crazy Teacher Do Next?” Moore will share ideas on how teachers can keep their students engaged.
“We all deserve a break from the organized chaos of our classrooms, and that is what ECET2 is all about,” Moore said. “During my presentation I hope to share some fun ideas with fellow educators to keep the chaos in our classroom engaging and worthwhile.”
Activities Saturday will involve “Cultivating a Calling” speakers who will inspire and motivate teachers to grow personally and professionally. Breakout sessions will provide topics for teachers to glean new insights and to improve current classroom practices. Small “Colleague Circles” will be formed so teachers in the same grade level and content areas can develop a network for sharing ideas. A celebration luncheon will follow.
Lowe said the idea of working together is key to helping teachers handle the myriad challenges they face every day.
“Small support communities, Colleague Circles, meet throughout the convening to share and address common challenges,” Lowe said. “These central hubs allow participants to quickly build intense professional, social and emotional bonds.
“Attendees are encouraged to continue the post-convening momentum by staying connected with each other and with their new networks by using social media as a way to collaborate, celebrate, reflect, and share ideas.”
Teachers will have the opportunity to earn one free continuing education unit, as well as some relaxation with the return of the spa room.
“Teachers need teachers, and that is what this weekend is all about,” Moore said. “We will have some interactive fun and take away some great ideas to keep us going and not only make it through this crazy time of the school year, but make the BEST of it.
“ECET2 is a great way to make connections with other teachers and be inspired and reminded of our passion and love for learning.”
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Feb. 27, 2019
Contact: Adam Minichino