East Texas Christian educators gather for first event
More than 500 East Texas educators came together Monday for a first-time event focusing on Christian education in the community.
The event, funded by a donation from the Fourth Partner Foundation, brought together people from 15 area private schools for professional development.
"I think the idea was just to build unity among private schools in East Texas and to get to know each other, get to collaborate and pick each other's brains and feel like we're all working toward a common goal," said Karla Foreman, Grace Community School's curriculum director and one of four people who organized the event.
Four area heads of school came up with the idea.
They were Randal Brown, of All Saints Episcopal School, Jim Franz, of Bishop T.K. Gorman Regional Catholic School, Rod Fletcher, of The Brook Hill School, and Jay Ferguson, of Grace Community School.
Ms. Foreman said these men decided two years ago that they wanted to do something like this, and last year they contacted numerous East Texas private schools to notify them.
Dr. Marvin Olasky served as the keynote speaker. Olasky is editor in chief of WORLD Magazine, a Christian news magazine, and the author of more than 20 books.
Ms. Foreman said his message provided the philosophical backdrop for their work in Christian education.
"I think that there is a real purpose in private and in Christian specifically education that is important," Ms. Foreman said, adding that this event provided people the opportunity to be renewed and inspired for their mission.
More than 40 breakout sessions offered educators information related to teaching, technology, parent/teacher interactions and more. Presenters came from the four schools that planned the event.
In addition to Ms. Foreman, the other people who organized the event were Elaine Nelson, of All Saints, Linda Seronello, of Brook Hill, and David Johnson, of Bishop T.K. Gorman.
Julie Aldredge, Grace Community School fifth-grade teacher, said the event was a great opportunity for Christian educators in the area to come together.
"Typically we go to Dallas and just farther away," Ms. Aldredge said. "It's been nice to get to know some of the people in my area that are doing the same thing I'm doing."
Pamela Wittmayer, the chief financial officer at the Trinity School of Texas in Longview, a private Episcopal school serving children from early childhood through the 12th grade, said at least 25 people from the school came.
She said it was beneficial to collaborate with other educators and share best practices.
She also said the message from Olasky provided a reminder about the freedom that Christian educators have to bring God into all aspects of learning.