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Conference helps teachers brainstorm, share strategies to help students learn

More than 1,500 Mississippi educators, most of them teachers, are attending an education conference at the Coast Convention Center in Biloxi. (Photo source: WLOX) More than 1,500 Mississippi educators, most of them teachers, are attending an education conference at the Coast Convention Center in Biloxi. (Photo source: WLOX)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

While students are on their summer break, hundreds of Mississippi teachers are hitting the books in Biloxi. What's considered the largest conference for educators in the state opened at the Coast Convention Center Wednesday.

More than 1,500 educators are attending the "Making Connections Conference." Most of the attendees are teachers, and what they learn at that conference could help your child make the grade in the classroom.

"It feels wonderful, because we always need the support. So knowing the conference is here, offering us new ideas really gets us pumped up and excited and gets us going about the upcoming school year," said Tasha Lewis, a teacher at Oakhurst Enterprise School in Clarksdale.

Teachers say that's one of the challenges they face, how to make learning fun and engaging for children. At the conference, they get to learn from the experts and each other, so they can apply those creative ideas in their own classrooms.

"I always look for new and inventive ways to help my kids. I teach gifted children and I'm always looking for that challenge for them, trying to up the curriculum and that rigor," said North Woolmarket Elementary Teacher Pam Dearman.

"Giving them the opportunity to get together and discuss their strategies and share and listen to people from their surrounding areas that have been very successful and go back in their classroom and see if it works for them," said Dr. Jack McAlpin, South Region Education Service Agency Director.

The strategies, training, and resources available are helpful to veteran teachers, as well as those who are new to the profession, like Jeremy Williams.

"It's nice to know there are others that are walking in your shoes. The first year experience was kind of overwhelming at times," said Williams, who is starting his second year as a teacher at South Side Upper Elementary in Picayune.

"Just trying to find some new avenues to reach out to the kids that are struggling or the kids at a different level. This gives you a lot of ideas to bring into the classroom so you can have a broader-base approach. It's been awesome so far," he added.

The teachers say with new education standards, changing tests, and students who come in with different skills, they have to find fresh approaches to reach every child.

"It keeps you going and if you're going, then your students are going, and it empowers you with what you need to help them be successful," said Lewis.

On Thursday, the teachers will hear from author and motivational speaker Annette Breaux. Then on Friday, Mississippi's Teacher of the Year will share her success stories. The Southern Region Education Service Agency and the USM College of Education and Psychology co-sponsored the conference.

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