The Bayh College of Education continues producing top educators in its classrooms while extending its reach beyond Indiana State University’s campus by hosting lifelong learning opportunities.
The founders of Indiana State Normal School would be proud.
Their mission to train qualified teachers for Indiana classrooms that brought the institution to fruition 150 years ago has endured, as the Bayh College of Education continues producing top educators in its classrooms while extending its reach beyond Indiana State University’s campus.
Each November, as the first half of the school year winds down, the college offers teachers opportunities to continue being lifelong learners through participation in Sycamore Educators Day and Power of Reading Summit.
Building a better Indiana means creating bridges with school districts, both public and private, across the state through support for teachers with events like the annual Sycamore Educators Day. Now in its 20th year, the conference is held every November at the Bayh College to offer nearly 300 Indiana and Illinois teachers, counselors and school administrators with opportunities for professional development and growth, networking and discovering new ideas and best practices.
When the newness of the school year has faded, the time is ripe for the jolt of energy and professional renewal that the Bayh College’s Sycamore Educators Day provides each November, said Melanie Beaver, ‘93, GR ’98, Ph.D. ’12, who served as a host and member of the event’s planning committee.
“Educators have to stay connected to remain relevant, and Sycamore Educators Day is the hallmark of what is relevant and special in education,” said Beaver, who attends the conference each year and has served as a keynote speaker and presenter.
Sure it’s possible for teachers to get professional development from a great book or through the internet, but Beaver said it’s hard to replicate the human connection, the sense of “I’m home” she feels when she’s at Indiana State and the Bayh College.
“Whatever your role is in education, administration, counselor or classroom teacher, we all need the kind of renewal that this conference offers,” Beaver said. “Every year when I leave Sycamore Educator Day, I’m so excited for Monday morning to come. I’m eager to try something new that I’ve learned, and I have a revived optimism for my profession.”
It’s a promise the Bayh College makes to all of its graduates and extends to all teachers across the state — to provide quality professional development throughout their service in education.
“We want to instill in them a renewed sense of purpose, energy and acknowledge the important role they play in educating the future leaders of our state, country and world,” said Denise Collins, interim dean of the Bayh College of Education. “What we do is invest in the success of educators so they can invest in the success of their students.”
Using this year’s theme, “Teaching Local, Reaching Global,” Sycamore Educators Day touched on the themes of technology and diversity to show the broader impact Indiana classrooms have on the 21st century.
“It’s our goal that teachers are provided with ideas they can implement in their classrooms first thing Monday morning,” Collins said. “What these educators do in their individual classrooms has a wide-ranging effect, so we want to equip them with the tools to prepare students at the K-12 level for whatever their futures may hold.”
There is no road to a better future that doesn’t include a solid foundation in literacy, which is the driving force behind the annual Power of Reading Summit. The event, co-hosted by Indiana State and the Indiana Department of Education and funded by a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation just wrapped up a very successful second annual summit.
“Reading is a foundational skill that students will take with them for the rest of their lives,” said Heather Grant, an instructional coach at Center Grove Community School Corp. in Greenwood. “There is so much in their lives that is connected to reading, so it’s important for teachers to stay on top of new strategies and ideas, like teachers learn here (at the summit).”
Listening to preschool through second grade teachers discuss their plans to implement strategies they learned in sessions when they return to their classrooms is a reminder of Indiana State’s reason for hosting this important summit.
“We know that early childhood education is important, and we want to support that in any way we can,” said Judy Sheese, assistant dean for teacher education in the Bayh College of Education. “What we, the state and Duke Energy are doing is backing up that commitment with an opportunity for teachers and literacy coaches to get free professional development focused on reading skills. These are resources that teachers can use immediately when they return to their classrooms.”
It is vital for teachers to have literacy-focused professional development at the summit, its organizers say.
“Reading has the power to challenge, empower, bewitch and enrich a student throughout their lives,” Melody Birmingham-Byrd, president of Duke Energy’s Indiana operations, told the more than 400 teachers from more than 100 school districts in Duke Energy’s Indiana service area who attended this year’s summit.
“Reading is a learned skill, and teachers are the single most important factor in a student learning to read,” said Kathy Bumgardner, national literacy specialist and consulting author who offered ideas for the most engaging, inspiring and motivational classroom management strategies when teaching young readers. “Management is all about solving problems and teaching kids to solve their problems because it doesn’t happen on its own. Students need to be taught to be thinkers, not just how to get through a task.”
During this year’s summit, it was announced that Duke Energy has committed to the third annual Duke Energy Power of Reading Summit, which will be held Nov. 20, 2017.
“The Bayh College of Education is lucky to have support from Duke Energy to be able to provide teachers with such an excellent opportunity for professional development,” Sheese said. “We are excited that this partnership will continue.”