A National Conference Through the Eyes of Fellows

Jean Piaget is a name that many educators recognize for his theory on how humans develop the ability to process ideas. He once said, “The principle goal of education is to create individuals who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done.” In Career and Technical Education, creating young adults who can do new things is our call to action; identifying some of the strongest practices that can help us accomplish this calling is why hundreds attended Vision 2013 the first week of December, some for their 10th year, and some of us for the very first time.

ACTE’s 2013 National Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada left many of us re-energized about our potential contributions to the futures of young adults through Career and Technical Education. Dr. Adam Sáenz kicked off the conference at the opening session as the keynote speaker. His message reminded listeners of the impact one teacher can have on a student to change their future for the better. As a child, Dr. Sáenz was a troubled teen headed down the wrong path, but two teachers who cared about the students in their classes helped this young man recognize that he was “capable of doing new things,” positive things, for his community. As a result, the 19 year old underemployed, nearly homeless Lou Sáenz ultimately became Dr. Adam Sáenz and has made a career and lifestyle out of paying this influence forward to positively impact the lives of others.

In moving through the conference, we found, as Arizona Fellows who were first time attendees, the ACTE Visions App was incredibly helpful as a planning tool. The app gave us the opportunity to bookmark sessions of interest (and we found many at every timeslot) and then create a schedule for ourselves. The app proved much easier to use than carrying the conference catalog from session to session. If one session was super crowded, or the information given differed from our interpretation of the summary, two thumb taps would bring up an alternative we had bookmarked and we were on our way, with no digging into our backpacks to find and ruffle through the catalog.

Other highlights of the conference included the Region V Social, multiple outstanding presenters, and the closing speaker, Corinne Hoisington. Collectively, at the Region V Social and in other casual meetings during these three days, many of us shared the highlights of our sessions at Vision that we would love to see replicated at the ACTEaz 2014 Summer Conference to enhance the experience for all of us in Arizona. The National Conference was a great reminder to embrace the value of our profession, something that we often lose in the middle of the school year, and return to our districts, schools, and classrooms with the commitment to empower students to do new things. Our world needs their creativity, and we are lucky enough to have chosen a profession that can help students recognize the value they bring to our communities.

By: Julie Stockwell and Jessica Edwards