Ozarks education students experience first professional conference

Release Date: 12/9/2011

Professional conferences are a part of networking and education in virtually every field, and participation in these conferences is an important part of any student's professional development. Three senior Education majors from Ozarks experienced their first professional conference in October when they and Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Shelli Henehan attended the 50th annual Arkansas Early Childhood Association (AECA) conference in Hot Springs.

Students at the AECA conference.

Three senior Education majors from Ozarks, Alison Villines, Laura Duffey and Tadera Garland, attended the 50th annual Arkansas Early Childhood Association (AECA) conference in Hot Springs.

The Arkansas Early Childhood Association is a non-profit organization of early childhood professionals and parents who share a common concern about the well-being of young children and their families. It is affiliated with the Southern Early Childhood Association (SECA), a 13-state regional organization, to expand professional growth opportunities, publications, and public policy support for its members.

The students attending were Alison Villines, Laura Duffey and Tadera Garland. Villines and Duffey are president and vice-president of the Alpha Alpha Sigma chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in Education. Garland is its treasurer.

"The ACEA is focused on education for children from birth through 4th grade, and several of our students concentrating in that area wanted to attend," said Dr. Henehan. "It was a great opportunity for me to introduce my students to some of my colleagues from across the state. They loved it. Governor Beebe gave the keynote address at the networking luncheon we all attended and met us individually afterward. The girls went to every single panel they could."

She said the panels most popular with her students were a presentation on supporting literacy with digital story books, as well as a cooking experience class ("Cooking Up Curriculum") and one on dance and movement ("Setting the Stage for Success Through Music").

Laura Duffey of Van Buren said the conference had affected how she views her field. "I now see that there is a lot more to educating than simply teaching students," she said. "This conference allowed me to see that education involves networking and life-long learning through conferences such as this one. It really opened my eyes to how fun and rewarding education can be."

Duffey added her favorite panel was the cooking experiences class. "It taught me a lot of really simple ideas that would allow students to learn through cooking simple recipes. And of course, I loved seeing Dr. Henehan present. She did really well."

Dr. Henehan presented "How to Keep Parents Happy: Strategies for Developing Family Partnerships" on Saturday.

Tadera Garland of Pelsor, Ark., described her first conference experience as a wonderful time and said she hopes to present someday. "I enjoyed meeting other teachers and the amount of helpful information I learned," she said. "I really liked the Quirkles presentation. It is a curriculum that combines literacy and science." She referred to "Quirkles Science Plus Literacy: A WOW Combination."

Dr. Henehan said Ozarks was well represented by her students on the trip. "They're great students," she said. "In addition to their coursework - they're doing so much this year it can be overwhelming at times - Tadera is involved with the Ozarks women's cross country team, and Alison plays basketball for the university. Laura is a student worker here. They're all very involved. It was nice to see them enjoy the trip so much."