April 22nd, 2024

Teachers convention aims to empower next generation


By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on February 22, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Educators from seven school districts are coming together to take part in the South Western Alberta Teachers’ Convention taking place at the University of Lethbridge today and Friday.

This year’s theme is “Stories: Empowering the next generation” and SWATCA’s president Jessica Ens told the Herald Wednesday a lot of the sessions that will be taking place will be focused on keynote speakers sharing their experiences that they used to guide others in areas of perseverance and how they overcame adversity.

“And how this really is what we’re dealing with in the classroom every day, is like 24 different little stories of kids coming into our entire classrooms and we get to share our stories but also learn from theirs,” said Ens.

 She said in attendance will be teachers from kindergarten to Grade 12 and therefore they are offering sessions that are tailored to their level of teaching.

 “We have over 130 sessions booked,” said Ens.

 She said since today and Friday are working days for teachers, even though students are on a break, offering a variety of sessions allows them to come and go as their schedule allows them to do so.

 The convention is kicking off this morning with Tareq Hadhad, founder and CEO of Peace by Chocolate, who will be talking about his journey.

 “They had a Chocolate Factory in Syria, but it was bombed, so his keynote addresses how they set down roots in Canada, and how they were welcomed in different crossovers of different people that you meet along the way, and how this circles back to this, so I think it’s going to be a really inspiring address,” said Ens.

She added that Hadhad also has a book that has been turned into a feature film about his journey and he will be signing copies along with boxes of chocolates at the university’s library after his address.

On Friday those in attendance will have the opportunity to listen to Elder Christina Fox, who recently retired from the Holy Spirit Catholic School Division and now is pursuing keynote speaking.

During her time with the HSCSD Fox shared her Blackfoot way of life and teachings with students and staff.

“We are very blessed to have her speak, as in terms of story telling and empowering the next generation, that is her entire message and her entire being is perfectly aligned with that,” said Ens.

Ens said the convention will offer teachers an opportunity not only to listen to both keynote speakers, but also to connect with other teachers that otherwise they would not have the opportunity to connect with, to share experiences, to create connections and to empower one another.

Those in attendance will also have the opportunity to listen to the SWATCA Honour Band, with guest conductor Chee Meng Low.

“Different high school students from the different districts in and around Lethbridge, get together and they put an honour band concert on Friday afternoon in the university theatre,” said Ens.

She said SWATCA will be giving away prizes and swag to teachers throughout the convention as “pick me ups.”

“We’re just hoping it’s a really fun and fulfilling time for teachers over the next couple of days. We want to uplift people as we send them back into the classroom between now and Easter,” said Ens.

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