As a new teacher fresh out of college, Boomer Kennedy (’08) found encouragement and support from veteran alumni teachers and his former professors in the Wake Forest education department.
Four years later, Kennedy is one of those veteran teachers who will be encouraging new alumni teachers and sharing “war stories” at the annual Emerging Teachers Leadership Network conference on campus Jan. 20 and 21.
Part pep-rally, part continuing education opportunity, the conference is designed to encourage alumni teachers and provide some new tricks of the trade. It’s “a great opportunity to reconnect with fellow teachers and to discuss some of the successes and challenges of our first year or two of teaching,” says Kennedy, who teaches U.S. history at Glenn High School in Kernersville, N.C.
About 40 new teachers are expected to attend this year’s conference. The education department has sponsored the conference for the last nine years to bring first- and second-year alumni teachers back to campus to learn from veteran teachers, reconnect with their college professors, network with other new teachers and prepare for leadership roles in their schools.
The conference is also a way to show alumni teachers that the education department’s commitment to them didn’t end when they graduated, says Associate Professor of Education Ann Cunningham, one of the conference organizers.
“We put a lot of time and effort into preparing them, and we hope that they stay in the classroom for as long as they can. We want to make sure they feel good about the commitment they made to become teachers.”
Kennedy, along with Andy Smith (’08, MAEd ’09), a science teacher at East Rowan County High School in Salisbury, N.C., and Jessica Shultz (’99), a teacher at Whitaker Elementary School in Winston-Salem, will talk to the new teachers about their teaching experiences and becoming leaders in their schools.
Professors in the education department will discuss new methods of instruction, classroom management techniques, the use of technology, and leadership in education. “It’s a good time for them (new teachers) to recharge and head back into the second part of the year feeling positive about what they’re doing,” Cunningham says.