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W&M students, education experts 'collaborate to educate'

  • Collaborate to Educate
    Collaborate to Educate  Jason Chen, assistant professor of educational psychology, was one of the guest speakers during the Saturday event.  Courtesy photo
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Speakers and students alike gathered at the William & Mary School of Education Saturday, all with a shared passion for exceptional students who deserve additional educational opportunities.

The Office of Community Engagement (OCE) hosted its first annual "Collaborate to Educate" conference, which included students from a variety of local educational aid programs.

Students from Lafayette Kids, Project Phoenix, Pineapple Kids, College Partnership for Kids, Merrimac Mentors, Campus Kitchen and Head Start united to learn and share ideas.

"Our hopes for C2E were two-fold. First, we wanted members of different education programs to learn more about each other's organizations and explore possibilities for collaboration" said Sherry McKinney, coordinator of education programs for OCE.

In addition to finding ways to collaborate, students had the opportunity to hear from dedicated educational professionals from the area.

"Through sessions with educators from the School of Ed. and WJCC Schools, participants [learned] best practices that they could apply to their work with local children and youth" said McKinney.

The event, which featured opening sessions, two different breakout sessions and a group reflection, brought together 40 students from the several on campus education-based clubs.

The first breakout sessions included a chance to learn about the "Big Ideas" of behavior management, the "Science of Motivation" and the ability to "Make Connections" through story and empathy.

The second breakout sessions featured a presentation on better understanding students of exceptional populations, a presentation on working with English-learners and a presentation addressing the Achievement Gap.

The breakout sessions gave students the opportunity to hear from many professionals in different areas of the educational field.

Students heard speeches from Anya Bobrinskaya, a full-time ESL teacher at Matthew Whaley Elementary; Jason Chen, an assistant professor of educational psychology at William & Mary's School of Education; Davis Clement, who is involved in a collaborative study of school climate; Megan Tschannen-Moran, a professor of educational leadership at William & Mary's School of Education; and Debbie Ramer, a professor at William & Mary's School of Education.

The speakers had a significant impact on the attendees, and students in attendance capitalized on the opportunity to interact with the presenters, said McKinney.

"Groups have even talked about inviting presenters to future meetings and training sessions" she said.

At the conclusion of the conference, students had an opportunity to reflect on their experiences from throughout the day.

"Students left workshop sessions excited to bring what they had learned back to their organizations and explore ways to improve their work with children and youth" McKinney said.

Although this was the first year that OCE hosted the event, McKinney said that the office hoped to offer the conference again next year.