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