Kean Hosts Summer Conferences for Aspiring and Experienced Teachers


Kean University furthered its legacy as a leader in teacher training with two summer conferences held on the Union campus — one for middle school students who plan to be teachers, and the other for experienced educators looking to sharpen their skills.

More than 350 students from 31 middle schools in New Jersey came to Kean on Tuesday, June 5 for the annual New Jersey Future Educators Association (NJFEA) Middle School Conference sponsored by Kean University, NJFEA and the New Jersey Association of Middle Level Educators. The conference provides career exploration for students to learn about the field of education. The theme for this year’s conference was Do You Dream of Changing the World?

“This is a new experience for them,” said conference coordinator Gail Verdi, Ph.D., assistant professor of elementary education and bilingual education at Kean. “We want them to know that this is a place where they can find community and become leaders in the field of education.”

Two weeks earlier, Kean hosted a conference for teachers and district officials — the Second Annual Educational Thought Leaders’ Conference – in collaboration with the Asbury Park School District and Lee and Low Books. Attendees examined Equity and Excellence in Education in an effort to improve academic outcomes for all students.

“Whether you are an aspiring or seasoned teacher, Kean is the place to explore new ideas and best practices to enhance the classroom experience for students and teachers and build pride in the teaching profession,” said Anthony A. Pittman, Ph.D., acting dean of Kean’s College of Education.

The middle school students at the future educators conference spent a day exploring topics in education to help them better understand the expectations and practices of teachers. A panel of College of Education students spoke about their experience as education majors at Kean and offered real-world advice.

At the Educational Thought Leaders’ Conference, experts in the field of teaching presented breakout sessions on how leaders in higher education and public schools can put theory into practice, with a focus on closing the achievement gap and helping all students succeed.

“We need to really look at how kids learn and start teaching kids the way they learn, rather than expecting them to learn the way we teach,” said Pedro Noguera, keynote speaker and director of the Center for the Study of School Transformation at UCLA.

Education leaders from throughout the state discussed practices and policies to establish themselves as effective, driven leaders in education who affect positive change for students, staff and the greater community.

“There are so many things we take for granted in the field of education and this conference really gives us the target ideas and questions to focus on to help us get a better understanding of our students,” said Gwendolyn Long, vice principal of Soehl Middle School in Linden and one of the educators at the Educational Thought Leaders Conference.

Kean’s College of Education hosts conferences like these to cultivate and guide current and future educators in examining the different dimensions and opportunities within the teaching profession.

Photo Caption: 

Keynote speaker Pedro Noguera from UCLA (center) poses with educators who attended the Educational Thought Leaders' Conference at Kean University this summer.

Top photo: Kean University education students presented at the NJFEA Middle School Conference, held at Kean's Union campus this summer.

(L - R Standing) Larry Fieber, Roberto Adams, Gail Verdi 

(L - R Sitting) Dawn DeMarco, Sarah Otero and Nathalie Bernier 

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