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Annual Educator Conference

October 4, 2018 @ 8:00 am - 3:00 pm

Thank you for another great conference.


Click here for speaker contact information
Click here for the slides

This year’s theme was Climate Change.


Research tells us that a positive school climate is directly related to improved academic achievement at all levels of schooling. With that in mind, sessions at the 2018 GAR Educator Conference focused on ways educators can create welcoming and engaging environments that will empower students to take ownership of their learning, encourage teachers to break away from the “one-size fits all” approach of teaching, and promote strategies that support a future possibility of college or career readiness.

GAR’s Annual Educator conference brings together K-12 educators from private, parochial, and public schools in Summit County for a full-day of learning, idea sharing, and networking around education and classroom instruction. It’s also a time for you to connect with peers to share ideas.


Seeing the Future: Using Virtual & Augmented Reality in your Classroom
Rebecca Stanek | 8th Grade STEM Teacher
David Ternent | 7th Grade STEM Teacher
Kimpton Middle School, Stow-Munore Falls City Schools
@dave_ternent ; @ms_stanek

A winning Educator Initiative Grant program 








“See” how easy it is to bring Virtual Reality into your Classroom! STEM teachers Rebecca and David will show you how to easily incorporate and access free VR resources to create meaningful and engaging lessons for your students. Bring your smartphone and/or computer to experience it firsthand. We will explore Google Cardboard AND 360 Cameras (Ricoh Theta and Vuze Cameras). There will also be Microsoft Hololens to check out Augmented Reality.

Target audience: all K-12 classroom educators




Many thanks to Vuze by Human Eyes for providing the Vuze viewers for this session. 

Hooks for Learning
Presenter: Sandra Wilder,  District Instructional Specialist, Akron Public Schools







How much learning will occur in a classroom is often determined within the first 5 minutes of the class. Student achievement is closely related to student engagement, and student engagement is directly linked to students’ motivation levels and interest. The alternative to a traditional start of class consists of rich and rigorous tasks that are relevant and engaging and give everyone a chance to experience success.

Target audience: all K-12 classroom educators

Using Robotics to Promote Girls as STREAM Leaders
Susan Molnar, Fourth Grade Teacher
Lisa Herman, Intervention Specialist
Shana McFeaters, Second Grade Teacher
Cornerstone Community School

About Susan


A winning Educator Initiative Grant program

Join these educators are they share research, data, and anecdotes about their past year spent empowering young girls to reach their STREAM leadership potential through the use of robotics. Learn how they increased young girls’ and female teachers’ perceptions of themselves as STREAM leaders and mentors and how they increased their understanding of STREAM through robotics and coding. This session will demonstrate the ongoing need for curriculum, mentors, female leadership, and opportunities at the elementary level and beyond for girls in STREAM programs.

Target audience: this program was implemented in elementary and middle grades, however the content of this session will be relevant to all K-12 classroom educators.

Unlocking Learner Led Classrooms, An Introduction to Problem-Based Learning

Presenter: Sam Crews, Ohio STEM Learning Network Manager – Akron Hub, Akron Public Schools



Problem Based Learning provides students the opportunity to learn in a way that is authentic and does more than deliver standards based content. Inherent to this work is the development of the soft skills found in every portrait of a graduate. This session provides an overview of transdisciplinary unit design and implementation along with many examples of PBL in action.
Target audience:  all K-12 classroom educators and administrators 

Virtual Village at Jennings Community Learning Center: A Multicultural Makerspace


Dr. Michelle Jones, Instructional Specialist
Dr. Gus Farmakidis, Media Specialist
Jennings Community Learning Center, Akron Public Schools
A winning Educator Initiative Grant program








Get your life jackets ready because you’re going on a virtual journey down the relaxation river. In this highly interactive session, educators at Jennings CLC will share how they utilized GAR funding to enhance the learning of all students with special consideration to the large refugee population through the use of Virtual Reality. By following a young girl as she navigates her life in a refugee camp, you’ll see firsthand how this program created positive learning environments by exposing all students to new perspectives using VR field trips and video production. This session will demonstrate how you can provide the learning conditions for students at risk of experiencing cognitive lockout by incorporating VR and video production into a standards-based lesson, as well as how VR can be used to support social-emotional learning.

Target audience: this program was implemented in elementary and middle grades, however the content of this session will be relevant to all K-12 classroom educators.


The Story of our Lives: The Evolution of a Co-Taught Class

A winning Educator Initiative Grant program


Susan M. Conroy, Biology Teacher
Jessica Stiffler, English Teacher
Hudson High School







Conroy and Stiffler’s story discusses the evolution of their co-taught class, H2BE, and the support system, including grant writing, they enlisted to create a nontraditional classroom climate. A co-curricular mini lesson, tips, and takeaways will help empower you to create cross-curricular lessons adaptable to your school’s demographics. Through reflection, networking, and modeling, this presentation will offer ideas to ignite “climate change” in your own school.

Target audience: this program was implemented in middle and high school grades, however the content of this session will be relevant to all K-12 classroom educators.

How to Utilize Social Media to Engage Students and Stakeholders

Jeff Gargas, COO, Progressive Mastery Learning / teachbetter.com








This session will explore the tools, tips, and techniques to harness the power of social media to engage students, stakeholders, and your community. You’ll leave with ideas on how to embrace social media to create a positive learning environment, while modeling responsible digital citizenship for your students.

Target audience: all K-12 classroom educators

The Write Stuff: How to Write a Winning Educator Initiative Grant Proposal


Lucille Esposito, Educator Initiative Grant Program Manager, GAR Foundation
Angela Harper, Principal, Mason Community Learning Center | Akron Public Schools; EIG Evaluation Team






About Lucille

Thinking about applying for an Educator Initiative Grant? Come prepared to look through the lens of possibility in this hands-on session to learn the steps you can take to apply for an Educator Initiative Grant from GAR Foundation. The EIG program is an annual grant from GAR Foundation that supports K-12 teacher-initiated, classroom-based projects in Summit County. Learn the critical elements of a winning proposal, preview a sample of the scoring rubric, interact with members of the Evaluation Team, and understand how to navigate the application process.

Target audience: All K-12 classroom educators and administrators wishing to learn more about the GAR Foundation Educator Initiative Grant program. This session is ideal for both first-time and returning applicants.

Keynote Presentation: Merlyna Valentine 2:00 PM

Transformational Leadership Principal, National Speaker, Author & Consultant


Developing and Sustaining a Positive School Climate

A positive school climate is one where staff, students, and parents feel valued, cared for, and respected. In order to achieve sustainable results, schools must have a shared vision of success. This session shares proven steps and strategies that allow schools to create and sustain a positive climate and culture of excellence.

In this interactive and highly engaging talk, participants will learn to use proven tools and strategies that build positive relationships between all stakeholders and create a culture of consistency. Participants will be introduced to powerful and practical techniques proven to motivate and empower staff, decrease disruptive behavior, and positively impact student achievement.

Download the Conference Flyer


October 4, 2018
8:00 am - 3:00 pm


GAR Foundation


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