The 165th NEA-NH Fall Instructional Conference, FIC, featured a theme of Building Resilience, 654 attendees, 90 workshops, 30 vendors, including members selling homemade items for charities, and a live performance from Plymouth State University students during lunch.
The wide array of workshop topics was driven by member requests throughout the year, with a strong and continued focus on mental health and wellness.
“Many educators came to the registration table telling me about the stressful year it has been so far,” said Ally Snyder, NEA-NH PESS Assistant and conference organizer. “I told them today is just for them, a chance to reconnect, recharge, and take care of themselves, so they can take care of their students.”
One participant reported that they were “feeling a bit hesitant to come, but am so glad I did, and cannot wait for next year. I loved the keynote presenter.”
“The Conference accomplishes three significant goals each year,” said Irv Richardson, NEA-NH PESS Coordinator. “First, it meets our members number one request: more professional development. Second, it gives you a chance to collaborate with educators from across the state to share stories, expertise, and experiences. Lastly, the FIC gives our members access to high quality presenters and at very low cost.”
Snyder added that “having the vendors present helps showcase the many benefits of NEA-NH membership, giving members a chance to interact and take advantage of the discounts provided.”
The majority of trainings centered on classroom strategies, college transitions, mental health and safety, unified arts, STE(A)M instruction, and staff and student wellness. In addition, this year’s conference also had workshops on Project-Based Learning provided by PBLWorks, and three workshops specifically designed for early career educators, to help ensure they have a strong start. Participants attending the entire day earned 5.5 hours of CEU credit.
Cassie Yackley,Psy.D, delivered a powerful keynote presentation, “Creating Safety and Promoting Learning in a Time of Fear and Disconnection,” to an attentive audience.
“Violence is ubiquitous, empathy is on the decline, and respect for others seems increasingly rare,” states Yackley. “How do educators engage students and promote learning when we are living in fear of violence in our homes and public settings?”
Fortunately, she also provided clear and convincing evidence regarding what the problem is and how to move forward together to create safe communities in which both students and educators are able to thrive, leaving participants hopeful and inspired to be the change in their own communities.
During lunch, attendees experienced a dynamic and inspiring musical theater performance by the Plymouth State University’s TIGER troupe. Their performances feature original writing, entertaining acting, singing, and dancing. The TIGER troupe can come to your school to perform “Kindness Counts” or “Brand New Day”, both suitable for K-5, as well as “Bystander: A Portrait of Apathy” for middle school grades, and “Alex’s Story” for high school students. Mention the NEA-NH Fall Conference when booking TIGER to receive a 15 percent discount.
Attendees were enthusiastic in the response to the Conference. “I’m a more effective educator when I have knowledge of best practices, and am energized with new ideas,” said one. “I look forward to coming each year,” said another. “The classes are wonderful and relevant, the food is great, the price is right and the presenters are exciting and fun.”
“NEA-NH is committed to providing our members high-quality professional development, at conferences, regional workshops, even at their school,” said Richardson. “We know professional development ranks high on the list of things our members are asking for, and we’re working every day to be sure we’ve got the best available.”
“After all,” added Richardson, “it’ll be pretty difficult to find an organization with more than 165 years of professional development experience.”