(L-R) Marisa Luna, Maximilian Rodriguez, Joelle Strickland, Trenton Lee, Carol Torres and Mekayla Welch.
(L-R) Marisa Luna, Maximilian Rodriguez, Joelle Strickland, Trenton Lee, Carol Torres and Mekayla Welch.

Faculty and teacher candidates from the Eastern New Mexico University College of Education and Technology (CET) attended the State Educators Rising Conference in Albuquerque from February 21-23.

Educators Rising is a national organization designed to cultivate "highly skilled educators by guiding young people on a path to becoming accomplished teachers, beginning in high school and extending through college and into the profession."

Dr. Rebecca Davis, Dr. Kathie Good and Dr. Mary Kallus served as judges at the conference and held advising sessions with high school students interested in attending ENMU.

Dr. Kathleen Wagner, the adviser of Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education, also attended the event to serve as a judge and took six ENMU students, Mekayla Welch, Maximilian Rodriguez, Trenton Lee, Carol Torres, Marisa Luna and Joelle Strickland.

Of the sixteen university students who served as judges at the conference, ENMU had six students at the event.

The KDP leadership team judged competitions, such as Job Interview, Teacher Recruitment PSA, Children's Literature and Lesson Planning and Delivery.

Carol, Trenton and Dr. Wagner were also invited to serve on a panel during the session that highlighted the expectations of a Teacher Education Program.

In addition to the KDP team serving as judges, Drs. Davis, Good and Kallus judged the EdRising Moment, Children's Literature and Researching Learning Challenges competitions.

The CET awarded five conference participants with a $500 award to attend ENMU. The faculty and teacher candidates were encouraged to see so many high school students interested in becoming educators. Plans are already underway to begin an Educators Rising chapter at ENMU and work with chapters at area high schools to mentor this pipeline of future educators.

Several of the ENMU participants discussed their conference experience:

Dr. Kathleen Wagner, Associate Professor of Secondary Education/Assistant Dean of the CET

How did your involvement as a judge come about?

Dr. Melissa Johnson and Doris Anaya with the Title V Grant asked if faculty would like to attend the conference. Drs. Davis, Good and Kallus and I were eager to attend and learn more about EdRising. When we realized that we could actually judge competitions, we jumped at the chance.

What was your role as a judge?

I watched videos of contestants teaching in public school classrooms, evaluated their lesson plan and conducted one-on-one interviews with contestants. At the end of every session, my judging partner and I also took the time to learn more about and encourage the contestants in their path to becoming an educator.

What did you judge?

Lesson Planning and Delivery; at the end of the judging session, my judging partner and I would ask the students what their plans were. One student smiled and said, "I want to attend Eastern New Mexico University, and I was so excited to see your vest!" (I was wearing a vest with "ENMU" embroidery.)

You served on a panel with two ENMU students. Describe that experience.

We were invited by the group from NMSU to join in their presentation. Sharing what it is like to be a teacher candidate in a teacher education program to high school students was motivating and reaffirming. We emphasized the mentorship they would receive throughout their program.

What did it mean to you to have six students attend the event?

Having six teacher candidates from Kappa Delta Pi attend the conference demonstrated their commitment to the profession. Watching them encourage high school students to enter the field of education gave me hope for the future. Unfortunately, many students are not choosing to become a teacher when they enter college. However, the ones who do are truly dedicated. Educator Rising provides the context for ENMU to make connections with high school students who desire to become teachers.

Was this the first time ENMU students have attended?

Yes; it was one of the most powerful and encouraging conferences I have attended.

Discuss the plans to start an Educators Rising chapter at ENMU.

I am working with Dr. Melissa Johnson to start a chapter on campus. I have already been accepted by the Educators Rising national headquarters as the teacher leader for ENMU. Our next step is to appoint four teacher candidates to serve as the executive council, which will enable us to be recognized by Student Life as an official student organization. Marisa Luna has eagerly accepted the appointment of president. Joelle Strickland was excited to serve as vice president. Dr. Johnson, Marisa and I met to plan activities for next year. Once we have our organization official, we will adverse and have members ready to go for the fall.

Mekayla Welch, Senior Majoring in Mathematics for Secondary Education

Describe your conference experience.

I attended a workshop on Thursday about using little robots in a science classroom and we discussed the importance of getting students up and out of the classroom and to have a hands-on experience. It was very interesting to learn and watch the students and how they reacted to the activity.

I was a judge for interviews for group B and it was such an amazing experience to see the preparedness in these students and to see their understanding and passion for this career path. After some of the interviews, we were able to talk to the students and ask a little more about their life and it was such an amazing thing to be able to talk to the kids who have a passion for teaching.

What was your favorite part of the conference and why?

The best part of this conference was being able to meet so many different people from students that attend other colleges, students in high school, teachers and listening to the secretary of state. Seeing the love and passion throughout the state of New Mexico at this conference was just liberating and renewed the love and passion I have for where I am going and what influences I am going to make in my future career.

Marisa A. Luna, Sophomore Majoring in Mathematics for Secondary Education

Describe your conference experience.

This conference was a great educational experience that really opened my eyes to some amazing students. I had the opportunity to judge the Children's Literature for Pre-K. These students prepared and presented short stories that were illustrated. The time and effort that went into creating these short stories were extensive and you could see the pride these students had for their work all over their face. This was a great learning experience for me because just a couple of years ago I was standing on the other side of the table. I had never been in the judge's perspective before and it gave me an opportunity to help offer these students advice after they presented. Overall this conference was a great experience; it gave me a look at some of the future educators of New Mexico and it just brings a warm, hopeful feeling to my heart to see all the potential that these students have!

What was your favorite part of the conference and why? What did you learn from the conference?

My favorite part of the conference was the STEM workshop that they did before I started judging competitions. During this workshop, a teacher from New Mexico stood up and showed us ways as a science teacher that he incorporates technology into his classroom to help keep the students engaged. He also offered us ways and techniques to keep the class organized while trying to do complex projects. The coolest part about this was getting to use these Haka balls that were controlled by an app that we downloaded on our phones. This semester here at ENMU I am taking a computer science class where we are learning basic code and these balls were commanded using a simple block code that we built on our phones. At the end, we had a competition on who could get their ball to do the coolest tricks. It was very fun and engaging while still learning about code. These would be awesome tools to introduce into a high school classroom to help get students interested in coding.

After attending this conference, we have decided to also start an Educators Rising chapter here at ENMU in the fall. It is going to be an exciting and rewarding experience that I look forward to being a part of!

Trenton Lee, Junior Majoring in Social Studies for a Secondary Licensure

Describe your conference experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Albuquerque while we were attending the Educators Rising Conference. I, unfortunately, had to leave a day early to return to work, and I was judging most of the day while I was there, so I was unable to attend many of the workshops. I was able to go to one in which I was placed on a panel with other education students from both Eastern and NMSU to answer questions regarding the teacher programs at our respective Universities, which was fun to help possible future education students learn about what it's like to be a teacher candidate. I had the privilege of judging a competition in which students job shadowed an individual working at their school and reported what they had learned in a presentation. It was interesting to see what the students learned and how often they had a newfound appreciation for the adults that work in their school district.

What was your favorite part of the conference and why? What did you learn from the conference?

I would have to say that my favorite part of the conference was just getting to see so many young high school students that were excited to become teachers in the future. You could already see their passion and drive for teaching, and I found that very cool to be able to observe in kids that were so young. It was also pretty neat to see how many of these students were excited to attend college here at ENMU. We have such a good Teachers Education Program and it was awesome to see how high school students from around the state of New Mexico see and appreciate that and are excited to join the program.

From the conference, I mostly just learned about Educators Rising as an organization for students. It was established while I was only a junior in high school, and I had never heard of it before Dr. Wagner mentioned it to me when asking me to attend the conference. It's so cool that kids who want to be teachers in the future now have an outlet and organization to be a part of with students that share their interest and passion for teaching.

Joelle Strickland, Senior Majoring in Teaching Physical Education with K-12 Licensure

Describe your conference experience.

I was so glad to be able to participate as a judge. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing from students and giving feedback to help them dig deeper. I judged the public service announcement submissions. With this being such a new addition to the competition, I cannot wait to see how they improve it for next year!

My favorite workshop was called Hungry Hungry Hippos is NOT Just a Board Game. We played the live version of Hungry Hungry Hippos and learned strategies for implementing math, literacy, etc. into a physical education program which is right up my alley.

What was your favorite part of the conference and why? What did you learn from the conference?

My favorite part of the conference was the judging. Though I was certainly the youngest judge in my group, I loved the opportunity to voice my thoughts. I loved where many of the submissions were going but had suggestions to take them further. As a college student, I felt the students were able to relate to me in a different way than the older, more experienced judges. I felt that it was a great opportunity. One major takeaway from this conference was to not play the live version of Hungry Hungry Hippos with your hair down if it is long. I learned the hard way. In all seriousness though, I learned that there are students with an interest and passion for teaching here in New Mexico and we cannot afford to let them get away. So, we need more programs in our schools like Educators Rising to ignite the fire.

eastern table at conference