2023 SCD Summer Conference

Nationally-Recognized Educators Headline 2023 Summer Conference
Posted on 08/03/2023

Hundreds of educators from across the region and state participated in two energetic days of professional growth and development as Madison-Oneida BOCES hosted the 2023 edition of its Sound. Clear. Direct. CNY Education Conference. The event was held on Wednesday, August 2nd, and Thursday, August 3rd at the Vernon Downs Hotel.

The conference is organized by the MOBOCES Staff and Curriculum Development team, in association with the Mid-State Teacher Center. It is a popular fixture on the professional development calendar for school districts across the region. The event acts as a gathering place for educators to share ideas with their peers, and gain perspective from regional and national leaders in the field through engaging keynote sessions.

This year’s conference was driven by two prominent keynote speakers who presented their proven methods for engaging and empowering students over day-long sessions.

The Wednesday, August 2nd session was guided by experienced teacher, coach, and administrator Brooklyn Raney. Raney is the founder and lead trainer of the One Trusted Adult organization. Its aim is to provide programming to educators that ensures that every child can have a trained, accessible and trusted adult in their lives. She has also authored a book by the same name.

The morning portion of her program was dedicated to evidence-based strategies for building trust, maintaining boundaries, avoiding burnout, and working together as a team of trusted adults to bring out the best in students. Her afternoon program explored lessons and limits in how educators care for young people each day.

The day also represented a homecoming of sorts for Raney. She completed her undergraduate studies in the MOBOCES region at Colgate University.

On Thursday, August 3rd, all eyes were on acclaimed educator Erin Gruwell. Gruwell’s remarkable story of student empowerment is widely known from a 1999 book, The Freedom Writer’s Diary, which she co-wrote with her students. The book was adapted to become a major motion picture, Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank.

Gruwell is famous for using reading and writing as a catalyst to forever change the lives of 150 students from Long Beach, California. Many of her students struggled with significant socioeconomic challenges while living in inner-city Los Angeles County, and were at severe risk of dropping out.

Gruwell empowered her students by offering a safe place to explore their experiences through relevant literature and a platform to express themselves through writing. The students’ written work was compiled into the Freedom Writer’s Diary, which became a New York Times bestseller.

It also paved the way for all 150 students to graduate high school and attend college. Today, many of her former students are mentoring at-risk students themselves. Gruwell’s morning session, entitled Becoming a Catalyst for Change drew directly on that experience. While telling her story, Gruwell demonstrated to the audience how they can become role models for tolerance, respect, and cooperation.

Her afternoon session, Teaching Tolerance, focused on ways that educators can help students understand the consequences of their actions in a constructive way, be tolerant of others and use that knowledge to make a positive difference in the world.

The event also featured table presentations from the MOBOCES Media Library that showcased a wide range of educational materials available to teachers in MOBOCES component districts. To learn more about upcoming Staff and Curriculum Development events at MOBOCES, visit their webpage.

More pictures from the conference are on our Facebook page!