National Convention Informs and Inspires Teachers
Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., was a buzz of activity Sunday, Aug. 5, as hundreds of Northwest teachers and 6,000 of their colleagues from 15 countries gathered for the third North American Division (NAD) Teachers' Convention.
"It feels like a mini General Conference," someone said while watching people hurry across the room to hug friends they had not seen in awhile. Others commented on the fun of seeing students they had taught who were now teachers.
George Johnson, NAD communication director, says this convention utilized almost every aspect of communication and social networking. For example, teachers had QR codes on their name badges. "Instead of exchanging business cards," Johnson says, "they could just scan a QR code and have the information added to their contacts." The exhibit area also utilized the QR codes to send information teachers requested without requiring them to complete a separate form.
The convention's theme, Moving Hearts and Minds Upward, was a reminder of the eternal mission behind every teacher. Ric Peinado, Mount Ellis Elementary School principal, says, "It reminds me that we are not only to teach our students to be outward-focused but upward-focused on [the One] who loved us first."
Larry Blackmer, NAD vice president for education, shared two main goals for the convention. First, he explained, "I believe in order to represent that relationship, each teacher must personally have a daily relationship with Christ, so I want to infuse the vision of Adventist education in every single one of our teachers."
"The second goal," Blackmer added, "is to say 'thank you' for what they do. They spend a lot of hours. They really work hard. Many times they are not appreciated as well as they could be so I want to say 'thank you' to each teacher who is here."
Attendees had a lot of opportunities to be infused spiritually as well as academically with three morning worships, three general sessions, two evening programs, more than 550 breakout sessions and a commitment service to close the event.
The music included performances by country and bluegrass gospel music group The Isaacs and by Committed, NBC's The Sing-Off season two a capella winners.
Featured speakers included Carlton Byrd, Oakwood University Church pastor; Dwight Nelson, Andrews University Church pastor; and Ken Davis, a Christian comedian and motivational presenter.
Adventist Risk Management, in partnership with several other Adventist organizations including the NAD, launched the Seven Campaign: Stop Child Abuse Now at the convention. The Seven Campaign is a clear stand taken by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to end all forms of child abuse including bullying, neglect, and physical, emotional and sexual abuse worldwide.
Teachers were also introduced to an Olweus Bullying Prevention Program offered in elementary and secondary schools and received the latest ValueGenesis and CognitiveGenesis updates.
Dan Jackson, NAD president, shared 12 lessons from the story of Moses during the commitment service. "The minute you accepted the call of Jesus you became a minister of the gospel," he said.
Keith Waters, North Pacific Union Conference associate education director, says, "This convention was a spiritual and professional stimulus for our teachers. It provided a plethora of exciting breakouts with ideas to take back to their classrooms, as well as ample opportunities for networking with fellow teachers. God was uplifted and praised throughout the convention."
The NAD Teachers' Convention is scheduled every six years.