Tuesday, February 11, 2014
I am walking into the conference on Thursday morning, and I run into Lori Conrad. Lori and I have known each other for a long, long time. One semester (or maybe two?) we taught a course at CU-Denver. We end up sitting together at several general sessions. As the keynoter struggles with her computer, Lori and I decide that we miss the days of overheads, when the worst thing that happened was that you dropped the whole folder and had to reorder everything.
Lori and I are joined by Missy, the language arts coordinator from another district. Missy was in one of the first classes I ever taught at UCD. At that point, she had been teaching two or three years, was recently married, and just starting a family. Now she's a mom of three and her oldest daughter is a freshman in high school.
In the exhibit hall, I run into another friend. K retired several years ago, to spend more time with her husband, who has a long term physical disability. She's written an alphabet book, illustrated by her son.
Outside the general session, I see another dear friend from my CCIRA exec board days. She has retired from a previous life as a principal, married off her only daughter, sold her house, and entered into a relationship after twenty plus years as a single mom. I sign up for a book group, just so I can get to talk to her occasionally.
And then I see another CCIRA friend, Judy, who is planning a trip to Finland this summer. Yet another friend shows me pictures of five grandchildren (last year when we talked she had two!) I talk books with Marci, who chairs the Colorado Children's Book Award. I'm blown up when she shows up at my session the next morning with Joy Sidman's new blessings book, such a special gift!
Walking through the atrium, I encounter two teachers from my Stedman days. We talk about babies and retirees and books. And then I find myself seated next to another former colleague at a meeting. She was a dynamic young teacher with only a couple of years under her belt. I had heard she'd had an awful year at a charter school, and I'm glad to learn that she has stuck it out and is still teaching. Our profession needs people like her.
One of my favorite things about CCIRA is taking new teachers from my building. This year I talked one of the fifth grade teachers into going. It was so fun to share a whole new world of professional development with her. She told me today that she was so tired she slept for 11 hours straight after the conference!
I love CCIRA. The speakers are fabulous. But for me, that's only half the conference. The other half, equally rich, is all of the amazing people I get to see one time a year. That might even be my favorite part of the conference!