More than 200 local educators attend international education technology conference

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 30, 2015

By Jeanie Groh

PHILADELPHIA — More than 200 Rowan-Salisbury educators are spending four days at the largest education technology conference in the world this week.

The 225 teachers, principals, technology facilitators and administrators left for Philadelphia and the International Society of Technology in Education conference in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

They arrived just in time for the conference’s keynote address, given by journalist and media producer Soledad O’Brien.

O’Brien addressed diversity and the achievement gap and how she believes technology can positively impact learning for minority children.

“I believe education is the next civil right,” she said. “Technology could fill the achievement gap.”

“There is a special bravery being on the right side of history,” O’Brien added.

On Monday, the teachers began leading and attending lectures, interactive sessions and poster sessions.

“Today was just awesome,” said Angie Fleming, a language arts teacher at North Rowan Middle School.

She said she had “all these good expectations” for the week, but the conference has “completely exceeded” those expectations.

Fleming said the highlight of her day on Monday was hearing Atlanta principal, Ron Clark, speak.

“He was so motivational,” she said. “You couldn’t wait to get back into the classroom.”

“(Superintendent) Dr. (Lynn) Moody’s smart to bring teachers with us,” said Kim Harris, technology facilitator for North Rowan Middle.

“A lot of districts send decision makers,” she said, adding, “To me, having teacher feedback is invaluable.”

Harris said that teachers see how they can use new products and techniques in the classroom.

“When you get that fire from the bottom, teachers influence other teachers,” she said. “They create the feel of the school. If they’re excited, their kids get excited.”

Getting the teachers what they need to effectively use technology is vital, said North Rowan Middle Principal Alexis Cowan. “That’s why we’re here.”

Principals Jennifer Warden and Kim Wolfe, along with teacher Wendy Hargett and several other teachers, went on an interactive tour of Philadelphia, using Photoquest technology they plan to implement with their students.

“Woodleaf team is going Photoquest for new students or parents,” Wolfe said.

Technology Facilitator Terry Sippel said he enjoyed going through the vendor area, where he said he was able to get several technical questions answered.

“This whole experience is very motivating,” Harris said. “It’s rejuvenating.”