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Annual Educator Conference

October 6, 2016

Thank you for a fantastic event! This year we celebrated the moment you knew you could reshape your craft. Thank you to our speakers and to Summit County educators for making this our most exciting gathering yet.

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This year’s theme was: Reshaping Your Craft.

GAR Foundation’s Annual Educator Conference brought together over 160 K-12 teachers and administrators from Summit County to provide teachers and schools with innovative strategies for student engagement and success in the classroom. We focused on ways educators can reinvigorate their craft. Whether you’ve been an educator for two or 20 years, our speakers offered innovative tools and ideas to help you look through the lens of possibility.

Watch the Spotlight on Students video

Access resources from the event by clicking on the session of your choice.
Morning Talks 9:00 am

Helping Students Find their Voice

Presenter: Kwame Scruggs, Alchemy

How can we make classrooms and schools an environment that gives students an opportunity to flourish and find their own voice? In this talk led by founder and executive director of local organization Alchemy, Kwame Scruggs, PhD will share the powerful tools and methods he uses to cultivate students to develop a sense of purpose in life and to thrive as members of a family, school and community.

Reaching the 'Unreachable': The Art of Mastery Learning

Presenter: Chad Ostrowski, Progressive Mastery Learning, LLC
@ChadOstrowski, @TheGridMethod #GARed16

When children learn to walk, we allow them to stumble, fall, and try again. These steps, however messy, are necessary so that growth and progress can occur. Often times in education, this concept is forgotten and students are forced to learn the same content at the same time. Instruction designed for the “the middle” leaves higher-abled students uninspired and unengaged, yet many educators have accepted the standard bell curve as normal. What if we could reach students where they are as opposed to where “should be,” while preventing lower performing students from falling through the cracks? Learn how Chad Ostrowski, founder of The Grid Method – Mastery Learning System tackled the most challenging year in his teaching career at a high-needs urban classroom by developing and implementing successful methods to break the traditional bell curve of student achievement.

Session Resources:

Developing Student Teacher Relationships Through Storytelling

Presenter: Royse Crall, Spring Garden Waldorf School
@SpringGardenWS #GARed16

Storytelling is a powerful tool to develop the student-teacher relationship and teach many subjects. Stories expose students to long-standing archetypal models that engage the imagination, stimulate emotions and feeling, and cause students to think more deeply about subject matter. During this talk, Royse Crall, experienced teacher, mentor, and storyteller will share how storytelling will support your work as an educator, the history of stories and how it is related to child development, how to use storytelling with a variety of subjects, and overcoming the fear factor and begin storytelling in your classroom.

Session Resources
Recommended Story Sources

Breaking Through the Achievement Ceiling

Presenter: Eric Ling, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy

Authentic Learning Experiences have the potential to break the mold of teaching and learning to the assessment and encourage student performance that is beyond what the instructor and student might think possible. In this talk, Eric Ling will share how he was able to maximize student learning by designing experiences in which students solve real world problems that they present to a uniquely interested audience equipped to bring their solutions to a reality. These exceptional conditions, combined with a teacher who effectively facilitates and encourages students, can result in students breaking through the achievement ceiling and begin to fully realize their true potential.

Breakout Sessions – 10:30 am

Creating Partnerships in Education

Presenters: Cassandra Hanna, STEM High School & Torrey McMillian, Great Lakes Biomimicry
@Channa2Hanna, @GLBiomimicry2 #GARed16

Developing novel collaborative partnerships can bring new energy to a classroom and reframe curriculum in ways that make it more accessible and more relevant to students. Biology teacher, Cassandra Hanna from the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School partnered with Great Lakes Biomimicry, a regional organization which uses educational partnerships as a core element to drive economic development through innovation inspired by nature. The result was two years of exploration and experimentation with exciting results and lots of learning for both organizations. This session will explore ways educators from all grade levels and subjects can learn what effective collaborative partnerships look like, why you might build one, how to form them, and what to expect once you have formed one.

Session Resources

Reshaping Your Craft: Creating Leaders in Education

Presenters: Kirstin Toth & Lucille Esposito, GAR Foundation
@Toth4GAR, @GARFoundation #GARed16

As educators, you work tirelessly to inspire – always thinking of the next best idea to help your students achieve the seemingly impossible. What’s your big idea for your students and what’s stopping you from achieving it?  Hear Foundation experts speak about the role of philanthropy in education and the innovative ways GAR Foundation elevates teacher-initiated ideas. Come prepared to look through the lens of possibility in this hands-on session to learn about the steps you can take to Reshape your Craft and become an even stronger leader in your field.

Session Resources:
Educator Initiative Grant Applicant’s Guide

Motivate, Stimulate, Fascinate: How to Make Learning More Meaningful and Engaging for Students

Presenter: Shelley Houser, The University of Akron

As a Literacy Coach and an Adjunct Professor, Shelley Houser makes it a mission to try to encourage all teachers, whether they are veterans in the field or brand new to the classroom, to think of ways to make learning challenging for kids, but fun! As a supporter of promoting critical thinking, she spends a lot of time sharing ideas with teachers that stimulate deeper comprehension and schema building in kids’ brains. This engaging session will highlight the important elements of a Literacy Coach, how to turn typical lessons into engaging, meaningful experiences, best practices in teaching, and how everyone can contribute to understanding. 

Keynote Presentation

Keep the Clay Wet: Promoting Growth for Yourself and Your Students

Presenter: Matthew Deevers, PhD
@matthewdeevers #keeptheclaywet #GARed16

Learning is a journey without a specific destination.  Whether we meet with success or failure, there is always more to be learned.  What factors motivate students to takes steps forward in their own learning?  How can teachers help all students find and keep that motivation?  How can teachers find that motivation for themselves?  Most importantly, how can a culture of positive, persistent growth dramatically improve outcomes and reduce achievement gaps?  This keynote will address these issues and help everyone reshape their practices, like wet clay on a potter’s wheel. 

Session Resources:

The Persistence Paradigm 


October 6, 2016


Hilton Garden Inn Akron
1307 E. Market Street
Akron, OH 44305 United States
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