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Alumni and Graduate Students Break the ICE for Future Teachers

From Laura Bradley (current graduate student: Curriculum and Instruction), Ashlee Carr ‘11, and Allison Mangan ‘11.

The Inspiring Conversations in Education conference (ICE), on Saturday, March 8, was nothing short of its name… inspirational. To lead off the day, Dr. Ellen Nuffer, Chair of the Education Department, spoke of the importance of teachers learning more than just content knowledge to better the field of education. She emphasized just how outstanding Keene State College education students are because of the training they receive. Her speech had everyone motivated to continue early Saturday morning. Next, Dr. Dottie Bauer spoke about the importance of building relationships as she introduced her former student who would be delivering the conference keynote address.

The keynote speaker, Heidi Welch, left not a dry eye in the room. She spoke of her challenging journey as a young student, and her passion for the field of education. She also spoke of what it takes to give yourself to your students and how to treat each student as your own starfish. She gave her most sincere advice and courage to all in attendance.

When the conference broke off into its planned sessions, attendees (majority were current students) could enjoy presentations spanning all academic levels. Each session was presented and hosted by Keene State College graduates as well as current graduate students.

Our presentation, “Surviving the First Years of Teaching,” was given during both sessions, and each time we were asked constructive questions by the attendees. We felt a positive energy and were excited to share our experiences. The time to talk at the end of our presentations was well used, as we were able to answer one-on-one questions from the participants.

After a delightful lunch at the Zorn Dining Commons, a surprise performance from the Chock Full O’ Notes a cappella group reenergized us for more conversations centered on education.

The full panel of presenters at the end of the day was the perfect way to conclude the conference. Audience members were given an open-mic opportunity to ask any questions that were not addressed in their morning sessions. Questions were jumpstarted with the help of Dr. Hucks and Mrs. Manning-Osborn (Education faculty). The panel was lively and actively able to field a wide variety of topics. The majority of the conversations were revolved around the anxieties of graduating seniors. The panel seemed able to calm the nerves of the audience and to excite them to embark on their future endeavors.

As the day wrapped up, panel members, presenters, and the audience alike left the Mabel Brown Room buzzing about the conversations they had been a part of. All feedback overheard was positive. All present for the ICE conference left feeling a sense of pride and a surge of passion.

Ashlee Carr and Allison Mangan, presenters and panel members, recall taking a moment on the stage to digest the day’s events, thinking back to when they would have been sitting in the audience, eager seniors in 2011. “This was exactly the bridge we lacked when referring to the gap that exists between college graduation and entering the field of education. As seniors in 2011, we asked Dr. Hucks to help us fill this gap. Sitting on this stage, now on the other side of that gap, we realized he has done just that,” says Allison.

Kudos to Kappa Delta Pi (Education Honor Society), their president Maria Franciosa, and their advisor, Dr. Darrell Hucks, for their commitment to the education community at Keene State College. The ICE conference proved to be a successful gathering of over a hundred aspiring and inspiring educators, sharing a wealth of experience and excitement for the field of teaching.

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