VEA’s First-Ever EPIC Conference Inspires, Encourages Educators
October 8, 2022
October 8, 2022
Sure, there were tons of great information and best practices shared at VEA’s inaugural EPIC Conference this weekend, but they almost seemed secondary to the emotional high many attendees took home with them.
No one helped create that high more than keynote speaker Dr. Manny Scott, one of the original Freedom Writers upon whom the Hollywood movie was based. Adding song, drama, accents, video, and rap into his presentation, he riveted the crowd with tales from his brutally difficult childhood in Los Angeles and the lifesaving, trajectory-altering influence educators had on him.
Urging attendees to do the same for their students, he told them, “The fact that you’re still here in this difficult climate tells me that you know life at its best is not about the money you make, the degrees you have on the wall, or the great things you accumulate—it’s about service, loving and helping people. You position people you didn’t give birth to in places where they can succeed. You have extraordinary hearts. Never, never underestimate the power of your voice!”
VEA’s current Education Support Professional of the Year, teaching assistant Arthur Anderson of Chesapeake, was bowled over. “Dr. Scott spoke to my soul,” he said during his own speech, adding, “Every day, we have the opportunity to encourage, to inspire students to do better, to tell them what their purpose is.”
In addition to the inspirational large-group sessions, EPIC attendees also had options during three breakout blocks, tackling topics in smaller groups including helping students who’ve experienced trauma, VEA’s new learning portal, teachable moments, equity, justice, using the arts in instruction, mentoring, collaborative learning, labor-management relations, and the rights of non-conforming gender students.
Jennifer Rokasky of the Prince William Education Association, left feeling the momentum. “It’s invigorating,” she says. “There’s something about attending conference and workshops, being with your peers, that fires you up. When you get back home, it makes you want to get to work and to advocate for your members and your students.”
EPIC (Education Professionals In Collaboration) is a new event bringing together the Instruction and Professional Development and Education Support Professionals conferences and the Teachers of Color Summit.