Meenoo Rami asked me to participate in a start-up idea that she was forwarding as a Bill and Melinda Gates Education fellow. Always impressed and inspired by Rami, I agreed to join the effort. There was no money involved, but I did receive the promise of an invitation to an uplifting education event.
When I get involved in initiatives for no money, I make my decision whether to say yes or no based on whether the event will positively impact the work I do in the classroom. Rami's idea connected well to my classroom work so I joined the effort. Several months after the start-up began I received an invitation to attend the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) event in San Diego. Then in January of 2016, I attended the event with 400 educators from across the country. As promised, the event was truly uplifting introducing me to inspiring educators, ideas, and opportunities.
During the event Gates Education Foundation officers gathered Massachusetts educators, consultants, and donors, and challenged us to do a better job by our underserved populations. They noted that while our state was doing an awesome job with education, there were still gaps to fill. They invited us to write a grant to host a similar ECET2 event in Massachusetts as one way to meet this challenge. So during a long layover at the San Diego airport at the end of the event, a number of Massachusetts educators started talking about hosting a similar event in Massachusetts. Our efforts actually resulted in two planned Massachusetts events. The first, the October 22nd ECET2-MA2016, is focused on Teaching ALL Students, and the second organized by Jennifer Dines, held in early 2017, is focussed on Teaching our ELL Students with Strength, Creativity, and Commitment.
Since our brainstorming time at the airport in January until now, Audrey Jackson and Sean Brooks, Educators from Boston Public Schools, Kevin Cormier, a Pepperell Math Teacher, Lisa Simon, Math Curriculum Specialist and Educator at Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District in western Massachusetts, and I have worked together to write the grant, and then upon notice of approval, plan the event.
Now with only three weeks to go and over 100 confirmed guests from all over the state, we are putting the finishing touches on the event, an event that will feature Jose Vilson, activist, educator, and author of This is Not a Test, Suzy Brooks, Director of Instructional Technology at Mashpee Public Schools, Liz Phipps Soeiro, Cambridgeport Public Schools Librarian, and student speaker, Rachel Kennedy who was recently awarded a Boston Globe Essay Award for her essay, "Young, black, and afraid for my brother on Nantucket." We also have a number of dedicated educators from throughout the state who will lead the break-out sessions.
In the meantime, we still have a few open seats for MA teachers who want to spend a Saturday in October learning about, sharing, elevating, and celebrating the work we currently do and can develop to Teach All Students. Massachusetts educators from public, private, parochial, and charter schools are all welcome to join us. Simply complete the invitation form. We're accepting the final invites on a first come, first serve basis.
We expect that our inspiring speakers and presenters, colleague circles, healthy, delicious lunch, and networking events will serve to create energy and motivation to elevate and celebrate what we are doing now in Massachusetts and what we can do in the future.
Little did I expect a simple yes to the inspirational Meenoo Rami would result in such tremendous collaboration, positive challenge, and the opportunity to work with so many wonderful Massachusetts educators to teach ALL of our students with strength, skill, and dedication.
If you plan to join us on October 22, my planning team colleagues and I are looking forward to meeting you and learning with you. If you can't join us on the 22nd, consider joining us for the pre-event #ecet2ma2016 Twitter chat on 10/16 at 7pm-7:30pm or for the post #ecet2ma2016 Twitter chat at 10:00 am on 10/23. Also follow the event tweets at #ecet2ma2016 and feel free to reach out to our team via the website contact information with questions, suggestions, or potential donations to make the day extra special for all of the attendees.