06 Aug


By Lonnie Hetterle – Denver, Colorado … Preparations and guidelines for reopening schools were at the center of the Rocky Mountain Conference teacher’s convention this past week, August 3 and 4.

When the calendar pages move to August, it means two things for teachers—the first day of classes, as well as spending three days with fellow teachers. The annual convention provides a time of fellowship, making and renewing friendships, learning about new curriculum, and methods of teaching, as well as being inspired to prepare the classroom for welcoming students and families.

“This tradition of an annual conference-wide teacher’s convention is such a blessing and an opportunity for fellowship that many of our teachers’ treasure,” Lonnie Hetterle, RMC education vice president, said.  “However, with the pandemic challenges that we are facing, it was necessary to move from an in-person meeting to that now-very-familiar Zoom meeting.  While we are thankful for Zoom, it certainly does not allow for the comradery that is usually such a big part of this time together.”

Daniel Birai, pastor of LifeSource, presented a devotional for teachers on their first day of convention.  He encouraged them by sharing about his faith journey and how God is leading in his life and the way God leads us even when we can’t see it. Following the worship thought, LouAnn Howard, director of education from Mid-America Union Conference, introduced a new math program as well as the assessment program (MAPS) that has been adopted and gave the rationale for this decision.

The day concluded with teacher descriptions of how they are managing their classrooms in an ever-changing environment. Some of the best examples teachers shared was how to teach fine arts via distance learning, using advanced whiteboard technology, exploring nature in lessons via remote learning, and how to prepare for a class that is at home. Instructors were thankful to hear these suggestions from their fellow co-workers.

Pastor Chris Morris, associate pastor of Littleton, began the second day by sharing a devotional based on calamity in the midst of troubled times. Teachers expressed their appreciation for his thoughts and the inspiration it provided.

Following the worship, presenters from Centura Health explained the latest information on the coronavirus and shared suggestions on keeping the school safe during this pandemic. Morre Dean, Centura senior vice president, has been working closely with the RMC education department on how to prepare schools around the conference to safely reopen.  Dean arranged for experts to address some 100 participants who had signed on for this important talk.  Dean was available if the educators had any specific questions for him.

Since dealing with pandemic is changing every day, there wasn’t a chance to officially roll out guidelines during this convention, as it was explained, the policies and procedures will be evolving throughout the school year. For the academic leaders, flexibility and being prepared for changes in day-to-day operations will be important for the 2020-2021 school year.

The gathering concluded with business items concerning human resources policies by RMC HR director, Noemi Borjon, and technology advice from Tyler Rettler, RMC IT director, and encouraging thought and a prayer of dedication from Ed Barnett, RMC president.

Lonnie Hetterle is RMC education superintendent

14 Jul


By Lonnie Hetterle – Denver, Colorado … The 2020 RMC teacher’s convention, in August 3 – 4, will be held online.

This decision comes as Denver metro still has restrictions on large gatherings and the Conference made a commitment to limit expenses for the remainder of 2020.

The camaraderie and fellowship are always a blessing, and for that reason it was decided to move forward with the gathering online. The meetings are also a time to renew friendships, introduce new team members, as well as provide professional development. This will give the opportunity for the educators to come together even though separated by hundreds of miles.

The convention will cover the following topics: COVID-19 preparations for the classroom, training on a new testing system, and building relationships among teachers in RMC.

Part of the professional development will be training on the new MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) testing system.  Instead of once a year analysis with the I.T.B.S. (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) the student will be tested three times during the year.  This MAP testing is a shorter test but more thorough, and will be a computer-based test. It will give quicker results to teachers so they can modify plans to better meet the individual needs of the student. “MAP testing is well researched and will come with a wealth of useful information that will greatly enhance the learning for our students,” Hetterle commented.

Concerning COVID-19 and the uptick in cases in Colorado, RMC schools are planning to open in person next month. While tentative plans are ready, the education department is finding that the guidelines are needing to be modified on a regular basis.

RMC covers a large geographical area and some local modifications may be needed as local health regulations vary from county to county.  The department is currently in the process of obtaining supplies such as hand sanitizer, washable masks, and non-contact thermometers for all of our schools.

“The world we find ourselves in today is different as we continue to learn to live with the pandemic. I invite you to pray every day for our children, young people, and their teachers as we strive to be good citizens of this country and most importantly, a leader of young lives at the foot of the cross. Thank you for your faithful and continued support for our RMC Schools,” Hetterle finished.

–Lonnie Hetterle is RMC education superintendent; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski

25 Aug

School Safety and Community-relevant Issues Featured at RMC Teacher’s Convention

By Lonnie Hetterle — Denver, Colorado…A three-day In-service Teachers’ Convention brought over 100 Rocky Mountain Conference educators to LifeSource Adventist Fellowship in Denver, August 4-6. The group represented 17 elementary schools and two academies. The convention began with an orientation for the six teachers new to Rocky Mountain Conference.

The spiritual tone for each day was set by LifeSource pastors, Andy Nash and Seth Day. Expert educator, and a vice president at Southwestern University, Steve Stafford, was the featured speaker for the in-service convocation. Stafford’s presentations concentrated on “teacher self-care” and being “the best you, you can be”. His passion and fun-loving spirit were contagious, providing the RMC teachers with much-appreciated thoughts and tips.

As part of the agenda, teachers were challenged by two officers from Denver Public Schools on the topic of school safety. They presented several practical ideas to help our schools by providing the safest place possible for students and staff. Johnnathan Ward, head of Ministry and Mission, and head chaplain at Avista Adventist Hospital presented “Compassion Fatigue,” a topic important to all caregivers, including teachers. The teachers returned to their schools better prepared to recognize and manage stress throughout the school year.

Jessica Eubanks, a new teacher at Colorado Springs, commented, “I was very impressed with all the speakers at this year’s teaching convention. The information given was relevant, personable and up-to-date. I loved the self- care attribute that the whole conference seemed to be based on. As teachers, we live to serve others, our students, our parents, and our co-workers and staff, but we don’t always remember to take care of ourselves. If we don’t take of ourselves, then we are not able to serve others.”

The 2019 convention final session included pastors of local Adventist congregations who joined a discussion about the current challenges and opportunities involving issues which relate to the LGBTQ community, which impact both Adventist schools and churches.
Ed Barnett, RMC president concluded the convention with a challenge and a prayer of dedication for our teachers as they begin the new school year.

Pat Chapman, administrative assistant in the RMC education department, who attended RMC teacher’s conventions for more than 20 years, said “this was one of the best and most relevant I have been part of. We have incredible, committed teachers, who spend every day reflecting Jesus to the students they teach, being supported, affirmed and cared for in an educational culture that reflects our Adventist values and belief system.”

Lonnie Hetterle, photo supplied