Apr 212016

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

Networking, gaining ideas and learning about new products are some of the reasons that educators from the Diocese of Davenport attend the annual National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) convention and expo. Around 5,000 educators nationwide attended this year’s event March 29-31 in San Diego. NCEA represents 6,525 Catholic schools with a total enrollment of 1.9 million students in preschool through high school, Catholic News Service reports.

Among those in attendance from the Davenport Diocese were Principal Celeste Vincent of Regina Elementary in Iowa City, Regina teachers Mary Rockafellow (first grade) and Kris Rutt (physical education) and diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools Lee Morrison.

“I find this conference energizing,” Vincent said. The generosity of the Home and School Association enables her to attend the event every year, she added. The conference provides an opportunity to stay updated and current on new trends in education, network with other professionals in the field of education and investigate products and curriculum in the exposition area, she said. She also gets ideas “to keep Regina being a true leader in the field of the best possible Catholic school experience that we can provide.” And, the event helps her to build on her faith “with thousands of other Catholic educators helping to bring faith alive to the families we serve.” Furthermore, she gains ideas for future staff development “so I can help the professionals in my building to continue to enhance what they provide.”

Many high quality presentations were offered this year, she added, such as “Coding to the Tech Classroom and Beyond.” The workshop offered limitless ideas and resources to help share computer coding with elementary students. The session “All are Welcome: Building the Capacity of Catholic Schools to Serve the Needs of Students with Disabilities,” was “an exceptional session” presented by Michael Boyle, director of the Andrew M. Greeley Center for Catholic Education at the School of Education for Loyola University in Chicago. His co-presenter was Sandria Morten, Ed.D., assistant director for inclusive practices with the Greeley Center for Catholic Education.

Vincent said Regina teachers who were interested in attending the convention and expo submitted their names to be drawn from a hat. For Rockafellow, it was “a terrific opportunity and I was thrilled to attend thanks to Regina’s Home and School Association and administration.” This was her first travel experience to California so, at the end of the conference day, “we took in a couple of different tourist experiences too!

“The conference was a great way to re-energize, connect with other Catholic school educators, and learn about new trends and reaffirm many things we are already doing.”

One session she enjoyed was “Improving Aca­demics and Behavior through Action Based Learning and Brain Break.” This session provided strategies, ideas and websites with activities to try with students. “It gave the scientific connections between physical activity and learning.”
The exhibit hall was “a great adventure as well. We got lots of freebies and goodies from the vendors to bring back to other staff members,” Rockafellow said.

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