Special Events for 2015
- NEA Vice President Becky Pringle:
The NEA vice president provided the Opening Session keynote address. Thursday, 9:30 a.m. (see more)
- Education Policy Panel Discussion:
Policymakers discussed the hot topic of education accountability. Thursday, 2-3:30 p.m. (see more).
- New Educator Panel Discussion:
This interactive panel discussion shared best practices to help new teachers make the transition from surviving to thriving. Friday, 1:15-2:45 p.m. (see more).
2015 UEA Convention Summary
Two long-time educators kicked off the Convention. UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh was joined by long-time public school advocate and National Education Association Vice President Becky Pringle as they shared their energy and passion for the teaching profession. "Of all the civil rights we’ve fought so hard to achieve in this country, the right to learn is the most fundamental," said Pringle.
The 2015 UEA Convention & Education Exposition at the South Towne Expo Center delivered much more than just professional development for educators. Parents discovered new ways to engage their children in education. Administrators and policymakers discussed local, state and national education issues. Kids experienced hands-on science, math, art and reading activities.
“Education is such a critical issue in our state and across the nation,” said UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “At the UEA Convention, we want to provide a place where educators can hone their teaching skills, families can explore new learning opportunities, and the entire community can come together to share ideas and celebrate public education in Utah.”
For well over 100 years, Utah educators have gathered at the UEA Convention to share best practices. The 2015 Convention featured professional development for K-12 educators, compelling keynote speakers, a New Educators’ Workshop and hundreds of vendor booths, seminars and workshops for parents, and a hands-on learning area for children.
Opening Session with NEA Vice President Becky Pringle
UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh kicked off the Convention. NEA Vice President Becky Pringe provided the keynote presentation.
Gallagher-Fishbaugh shared the story of an experience she had attending a meeting of education policymakers, which included state governors, a state senator and a Harvard professor (see the full story).
After each of the “education experts” had spoken about ways to improve public education, Gallagher-Fishbaugh explained that they finally turned to a teacher and asked ‘What do you think?’ “I spent the last thirty minutes listening to a group of arrogant and condescending noneducators disrespect my colleagues and profession. I listened to a group of disingenuous people whose own self-interests guide their policies rather than the interests of children. I listened to a cabal of people who sit on national education committees that will have a profound impact on classroom teaching practices. And I heard nothing of value,” she said. “Today I have listened to people who are not teachers, have never worked in a classroom, and have never taught a single student, tell me how to teach.”
Gallahger-Fishbaugh shared a similar experience from a September Education Summit held in Cedar City. “Invitees included members of the Utah legislature, the Governor’s office, School Boards, PTA, Superintendents, business leaders and technology vendors. At the beginning of the conference the question was asked how many teachers were in the room of several hundred. TWO raised their hands,” she said. “We should be outraged at the fact that principals and teachers were not given the opportunity to attend this critical event.”
The UEA President then urged teachers to “be audacious and tenacious in ensuring that we have a seat at the table and are valued as the professional experts when it comes to educating our children.”
“It is beyond the time for us to take back our profession and be those agents of change,” she concluded. “I am asking you to write your legislators with your concerns and solutions facing public education, attend Educator Day on the Hill, vote in the upcoming primary and general elections, contribute to UEA PAC, attend your School Board meetings, become knowledgeable about the policies affecting your students and your classrooms and be that expert voice for our profession. If not us who, if not now when?”
Pringle made an impassioned plea to teachers to support fairness and equity in public education. “Of all the civil rights we’ve fought so hard to achieve in this country, the right to learn is the most fundamental,” she said. “We need leaders coming into and staying in the profession who know and understand the critical role our organization plays in providing opportunities for students.”
Pringle discussed the NEA process to recommend presidential candidates. She explained that because campaigning begins earlier than in past years, the NEA felt compelled to begin the recommendation process now in order to have influence in the election. Candidates who responded to a questionnaire and personal interview were considered for recommendation. The NEA Political Action Committee and the NEA Board of Directors determined that the responses supplied by Hilary Clinton indicated she would be the most friendly to education issues of all the Democratic candidates and have recommended her in the Democratic primary election. Despite repeated attempts and requests, no Republican candidate responded to the NEA’s questionnaire, she said.
Developing relationships with political leaders is critical, noted Pringle. She pointed out how the UEA has worked hard to develop working relationships with elected officials from both political parties in Utah, including the governor. She stressed that teachers and parents need to work with legislators and be active in politics because what they do influences everything that happens in the classroom.
“Working together, we will overcome the challenges facing public education,” Pringle concluded.
Friday Keynote with Jenny Severson
Educator Dr. Jenny Severson shared critical strategies to achieve an effective classroom. According to Severson, “every day teachers are either creating a classroom of efficiency, learning and growth or getting bogged down in management and design flaws.” She discussed the key elements of instruction and management that align learners and learning to create a powerful cohesive community.
Severson stressed the importance of creating teacher-student agreements, but explained that when firm rules are not required, agreements are better. “Agreements can be modified as needed to promote learning,” she said. She shared the example of an agreement that food was not allowed in class. A student pointed out that she always has a cup of coffee so she modified the agreement so students could have water bottles.
It’s important to create an environment where each student feels safe to express themselves, she noted. “We have to feel comfortable before we take risks and learning requires risks. If people feel safe, they will take risks, and if they take risks, they are more likely to find success in learning.”
In discussing critical strategies that allow teachers to achieve an effective classroom, Severson pointed out how language, directions and the way teachers communicate through presentation and facilitation skills support the foundation and atmosphere of the classroom.
The session ended with two educators new to the profession sharing their thoughts on teaching. Highland High (Salt Lake) teacher Sue Tice and Country View Elementary (Weber) teacher Shelese Stansfield, talked about the importance of belonging to their professional association. “I’m glad to have an organization like (the UEA) behind me,” said Tice. “When you have a collaborative relationship, so much can get done for teachers and for students.”
SPECIAL EVENT: Education Policy Panel Discussion
A distinguished panel of educators and policymakers engaged in a sometimes heated exchange as they shared their thoughts on how federal, state and local education policies impact classrooms and student learning.
The panel, moderated by former Utah State Senator Pat Jones, included:
- Greg Hughes, Utah House Speaker;
- Jim Dabakis, Utah State Senator;
- Becky Pringle, NEA Vice President and
- Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, UEA President.
“(Legislators) are not listening to educators,” said Gallagher-Fishbaugh in response to a question about achieving greater collaboration. “We presented possible solutions and we were ignored.”
Asked about the appropriate interaction between the federal government and state and local school boards in education policymaking, Pringle noted that 8 percent of school funding comes from the federal government, but a greater percentage of regulation comes from them. “(The federal government) role should be guaranteeing equity of access and opportunity for all,” she said. “Another role is to be a clearinghouse for innovative ideas.”
“(The federal No Child Left Behind Act) was a slew of unfunded mandates,” said Hughes. He talked about the property tax equalization model for school funding passed in 2015 and the fact that it costs about $57 million just to fund enrollment growth. “Are we being the most efficient we can be? My constituents are demanding accountability for dollars spent (on education).”
“When we are talking about accountability we are talking about all resources, it is not just about funding,” said Pringle. “It is also about wraparound services…parents need jobs, children need to be fed, etcetera.”
“The Legislature needs to butt out of the classroom,” said Dabakis. The senator expressed frustration that the legislature spent three days debating a civics test. “The best thing (the Legislature) could do is to butt out and figure out how to get another $1 billion into the system,” he said.
In response to a question about charter schools, Gallagher-Firshbaugh expressed concern that the intent of the original legislation is being ignored. “We started in 1998 with eight schools and we were supposed to report on findings about them and never did,” she said. “It is astounding that we are opening 10 to 11 new (charter schools) a year without support for them or the existing schools.” She cited reports showing charter schools are not hiring qualified teachers and are not performing academically as well as neighborhood schools. “We need to support all schools,” she said.
“Every school district needs to figure (collective bargaining) out for themselves,” said Hughes in response to an audience question about eliminating collective bargaining as was done in Wisconsin. “I am not looking to interrupt it.”
The panel discussion was sponsored by Prosperity 2020, a business-led effort to enhance education in Utah. Twenty-one chambers of commerce and industry associations from throughout the state of Utah support Prosperity 2020.” The business community has a different voice than educators,” said Prosperity 2020 Vice Chair Keith Buswell in his introduction to the panel. “They want a return on investment on their tax money that is invested in education.” He also added that “nothing replaces a great teacher.”
SPECIAL EVENT: New Educator Panel Discussion
The first few years of teaching can be daunting. As teachers transition from student teacher to provisional teacher to veteran teacher, professional networks are vital to success. Participants in this panel discussion shared best practices to help new teachers make the transition from surviving to thriving. UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh moderated the discussion. Panel members included:
- James Maughan, foreign language and literature teacher at West Hills Middle in Jordan School District;
- Michele Jones, mathematics teacher at Brockbank Junior High in Granite School District;
- Jan Pace, special education behavior interventionist for Davis School District; and
- Frank Schofield, superintendent of Logan School District.
The discussion was part of the New Educators’ Workshop, designed especially for education students or those in their early years of teaching. Available workshops covered a variety of topics such as classroom management strategies, teaching and learning with iPads, strategies for children with autism, multimedia projects and dealing with stress.
'Hot Topics and Hot Dogs' Event with Governor Gary Herbert
Utah Governor Gary Herbert joined members of the UEA Capitol Club during the UEA Political Action Committee’s annual Hot Dogs and Hot Topics event on Thursday afternoon. He expressed his appreciation for teachers. “I still remember my third-grade teacher, Mr. Hansen, who taught me a love of learning,” he said.
“Economic development and job growth continue to be my top priority,” noted Herbert, adding that education is one of the primary keys to Utah’s economic success. Attendees applauded the Governor’s proposal during the 2015 legislative session to boost the Weighted Pupil Unit for education funding by 6.25 percent.
Participants at the event had the opportunity to mix and mingle during the informal hot dog lunch. The governor stayed to pose for photographs with teachers from each UniServ represented at the event.
Workshops and Seminars
Learning opportunities included professional development sessions designed for educators, as well as seminars and workshops to help parents with children in public schools. While both days featured training opportunities on a variety of topics, Thursday’s professional focus was on veteran teachers and Friday’s emphasis on new educators, including the New Educators’ Workshop. (See the complete workshop descriptions for Thursday and Friday.) Teachers: to request re-licensure points, complete the License Renewal Credit Form (PDF).
The Exhibit Hall area featured more than 100 vendor booths, two stage areas with hourly education-related workshops and entertainment, and a variety of other activities (see the complete Thursday schedule and Friday schedule), including:
- Stage Areas: The Exhibit Hall featured two sponsored stage areas where parents and educators participated in workshops and kids enjoyed educational entertainment.
- Book Giveaway: Former Utah Jazz player Mehmet Okur joined the Jazz Bear and the Cat in the Hat as kids and adults shot free throws to win a book at the “Book-A-Basket” event. Hundreds of books were available for all age groups thanks to generous donations from Horace Mann, Utah Idaho Supply/Map World, Barnes & Noble and KUED. The Utah Jazz also sponsored the event.
- Kids Exploration Corner: Kids and families once again enjoyed the KUED Kids Exploration Corner for the hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) and literacy activities, and of course for the PBS Kids characters. Community organizations also provided curriculum guides and classroom lesson plan ideas for educators. Participation organizations included KUED, Bountiful Davis Arts Center, Discovery Gateway, Mad Science, Mike Hamilton and the Magic in Learning, Salt Lake City Public Library, Salt Lake County Library Services, Spy Hop, Utah Education Network and Utah Society of Environmental Education (USEE).
- Pampering Station: Convention attendees relaxed and enjoyed massages, haircuts and manicures at the Pampering Station. “The Pampering Station was definitely a highlight for me,” said one attendee. The stations were free for UEA members.
- Health Screenings: EMI Health provided health screening exams – including cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage for UEA members.
Other Convention Activities
- UEA Booth: The UEA hosted a booth where UEA members could gather information and learn more about their Association. The booth, located in the main foyer this year, featured representatives from membership, U-PAC, UEA-Retired and the Children At Risk Foundation.
- Gifts and Prizes: Each educator who attended the Convention received a free welcome bag, courtesy of Chevron Fuel Your School. In addition, UEA members entered the “Golden Ticket” prize drawing for a 7-night condo stay at one of thousands of worldwide locations (courtesy of Access Development), one of two $100 Utah Idaho Supply/Map World gift cards, or one of four $100 Donors Choose gift cards (courtesy of Chevron). Here are the winners:
- 7-night condo stay: Renee Welton, Canyons Education Association
- $100 Utah Idaho Supply gift certificates: Jonathan Horan, Alpine Education Association, and Jane Lawrence, Canyons Education Association
- $100 Donors Choose gift cards: Jaime Lee, Granite Education Association; Janet Gundry, Davis Education Association; Rose Kemp, Salt Lake Education Association; and Amanda Carroll, Uintah Education Association
- Free Tickets: As always, entrance to the UEA Convention was free to all UEA members. The regular admission cost for all others was $10. Each UEA member was provided with a supply of free tickets to share with students, parents, neighbors and friends. Advertising directed anyone wanting free Convention tickets to contact a public school teacher.
Future UEA Convention Dates
- October 20-21, 2016
- October 19-20, 2017
- October 18-19, 2018
- October 17-18, 2019
Past UEA Convention Information