Over the past two days, over 600 educators gathered to participate in the All Write Summer Institute conference hosted by Warsaw Community High School. The event, which featured some of the best minds in educational practices, began this morning and will continue throughout the day tomorrow.
According to WCS Chief Academic Officer Dave Hoffert, educators from across the county arrived yesterday to sharpen their skills in teaching literacy to students. Visitors were offered the opportunity to sit in on several guest lectures from speakers that Hoffert stated are among the best mind on teaching literacy in the country. Though on their summer breaks, Hoffert noted that approximately 100 WCS teachers volunteered their time to attend the event.
“I have to put a huge plug in for our teachers,” said Hoffert with a smile. “Our teachers are volunteering their time to be able to come in this summer to be involved in two out of the three conferences. This is their summer vacations and they are fully committed to making sure that they have the best refined skills leading into the fall.”
The event, which has been hosted at WCHS for the past three years, was organized by the All Write Consortium. According to Mindy Hoffar, event coordinator with All Write, the consortium is comprised of a group of school districts who want to further literacy goals. By paying yearly dues, these schools are able to pool their money in order to receive, as Hoffar stated, “more bang for their buck.”
Hoffar stated that many of those speaking during the conference are well-known, reputable authors of trade and textbooks on literacy education. However, by banding together through the consortium, educators not only afford themselves access to a greater scope of guest speakers, they also allow a venue to collaborate with other schools districts on what practices they are utilizing in the classrooms.
“We have teachers coming from all throughout Indiana and Southern Michigan to hear from some the foremost experts on literacy instruction throughout the United States,” stated Hoffert. “We have a great line of speakers and this is actually the third year that we have hosted the event. We are very excited because not only does it give our teachers a chance to come and get some professional learning opportunities but it also provides a lot of professional learning opportunities to other people in this area.”
According to Hoffert, All Write selects many of their speakers though attendance at national conventions such as NCTE. Some topics covered throughout the All Write Summer Institute included teaching grammar in a fun way, how to effectively teach poetry to students and how to critically grade students’ creative writing without jeopardizing their creativity.
“The speakers are people that we’ve heard speak before so we have an idea what it is they speak on and a lot of times we pick topics that our teachers are needing and asking for. We also love to have our speakers talk about whatever it is they are passionate about right now because if they are passionate about it, it creates passion about it in our teachers,” stated Hoffar.
Though the event greatly benefits educators within and outside of the Warsaw community, Hoffert noted that another exciting benefit of hosting the conference at WCHS is that the numerous guests of the conference benefit local businesses and economics.
According to Hoffar, several of the local hotels and motels have been completely booked up. The event also featured food and drinks from The Studio to hungry educators throughout the morning and afternoon hours. In addition, Hoffar noted that during the conference’s lunch period, buses were driven to locations in Warsaw and Winona Lake to allow visitors a chance to sample the areas numerous restaurants.
According to Hoffert, “There are a couple of different benefits (for Warsaw) and one is that we are bringing 600 teachers into this community and we believe that that is a huge economical benefit. It also gives Warsaw (Community Schools) an opportunity to showcase – we have beautiful facilities (and) we have incredible instructional process that are happening.
“We are excited to collaborate with others and share a little bit about what we are doing. It also gives us a chance to learn as well. Anytime that we can bring in quality speakers like this [as well as] the foremost experts and new research that is out there in the field and be able to share that with teachers inside of the professional learning community, it really starts the ball rolling in making sure that we are always staying cutting edge and that we are always first and foremost with our curricular offerings and our instructional practices in our schools.”