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School of Education Hosts Regional TAFE Conference

Jan. 14, 2014

Baylor School of Education hosted the Region 12 Conference of the Texas Association of Future Educators on Jan. 9. TAFE is a statewide nonprofit organization that gives high school students the chance to explore the teaching profession. On-campus TAFE clubs learn about the profession and volunteer as mentors for younger students.

During their day in Marrs McLean Science Building on Baylor's campus, students from the Central Texas area competed in various contests, ranging from a written test to presentations and speeches. They also attended informative break-out sessions, and some students led sessions for other participants.

Lacey Davis and Tien Phan from Midway High School won their competition by creating an educational bulletin board about the solar system and presenting it to a panel of three judges. "We have to tell how it would be used in the classroom as part of a lesson," Davis said. "The planets come off of the board, so that kids can try to put them in the right place."

Ashley Prax from Copperas Cove High School won the "TAFE Moment" contest, explaining to the judges why she wants to be an educator. She said her "aha" moment came at a conference last year when a presentation about reading curriculum showed her new ways to teach reading. "I struggled with reading when I was younger," Prax said. "A light bulb went off at the end of that presentation -- now reading is fun for me, and I want to make it fun for others."

Lindsey Freed, assistant director for enrollment management and advising for the School of Education, served as liaison for Baylor. "Hosting a TAFE event is a great opportunity for Baylor and the School of Education to show off our campus and facilities to potential students," Freed said. "The students also had the chance to meet several Baylor faculty members in the teacher education program, who served as judges for some of the competitions."

Dr. Brooke Blevins, Baylor assistant professor in Curriculum and Instruction, gave the keynote speech for the conference, helping the students discover for themselves what it means to be a great teacher -- a teacher who makes a difference.

Student winners in the various competitions were announced at the end of the day and will go on to the state TAFE meeting in San Antonio on Feb. 23-25.

Donita Garza, who became state program director for TAFE in October after a classroom teaching career, said the purpose of the TAFE competition and conference is to teach leadership.

"The competitions give students the opportunity to put together a project, to practice, and to present," Garza said. "Everyone needs those skills. When you see them work so hard on a project and have such pride in it, that makes it all worthwhile."

The overall purpose of TAFE, Garza said, is to promote careers in education and to train students to become effective teachers.

"Through TAFE, they are also creating a network," she said. "They are meeting teachers and other students from all over the state." --Meg Cullar

For information about TAFE, click TAFE. Click below for conference photos:

2014 Region 12 TAFE Conference