Recently, I was given the opportunity to speak at the Social Emotional Learning Summit presented by Illinois ASCD & Mindful Practices, by the inspirational ed leader, Carla Tantillo Philibert. To use a phrase from MEMSPA executive director, Paul Liabenow, it was a blockbuster event! It kicked off with a keynote address from Phyllis Lockett focusing on shifting the educational system to address the individual needs of each student and develop skills and mindsets they will need for future jobs and opportunities that don’t yet exist. The day continued with breakout sessions on “Educating the Whole Child“, “Creating Empathetic Readers and Writers through powerful books in the Literacy Workshop” and “Remembering our Why through Relationships, Regulation, and Resilience“. The first day ended with a keynote from Greg Wolcott reminding us that “It takes two wings to soar” and that children need development of BOTH academic skills and social-emotional skills.
The second day started with a bang as the event organizer, Carla Tantillo Philibert gave a rousing keynote on reconnecting school stakeholders with their passion for education. The morning continued with the opportunity to give back to back presentations with my friend and MEMSPA colleague Mike Domagalski on supporting teachers “No TEACHER Left Behind” and on motivating teachers “Self-Awareness, Social Media & Beyond“. The learning continued with sessions on “Cultivating Strong Relationships with our Communities” and a closing keynote from Dr. Maurice Swinney on “The Necessary Tensions Between Race, Equity and SEL“.
My personal highlight of the summit went far beyond the learning and inspiring that came from the keynotes and the sessions. It came from the fact that my oldest daughter, Marina, not only attended the conference with me, but was given the opportunity to speak on a panel discussion called “Voices Across the Country“. When I mentioned to Carla that I was taking my daughter to Chicago with me for the conference, she immediately asked if she was willing to add her student voice to the conference and present on a panel giving the perspectives of a high school student. Marina accepted and with her usual confidence jumped right in and let her voice be heard on the panel with people from all over the nation. I couldn’t have been more proud!
I’ve attended and presented at numerous conferences and I’ve grown from each one of them. However, the growth from this conference was different. It was not just growth in my professional knowledge, but growth in my relationship with my daughter and in my admiration for the young woman she has become. She inspires me to believe that as we in education work to provide a better world for our students, they are making a better world for us!
The adventures continue next week at the 2019 MEMSPA Summer Leadership Institute in Mackinac Island!