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    Posted on 11/08/2017
    Urban School Conference Logo

    For additional photos and feedback go to #UrbanSchoolsConf

    Urban Schools Conference Logo

    Approximately 1,100 educators came together for the first local Urban Schools Conference held on Tuesday, November 7 at the Albany Capital Center.  The conference, offered collaboratively by the Schenectady City School District and Capital Region BOCES, featured Dr. Christopher Emdin as the keynote speaker, five well-known featured speakers, three ed camps and 21 breakout sessions and workshops.  

    While the majority of the attendees represented Schenectady Schools, educators from Watervliet, Troy, Lansingburgh, Poughkeepsie, the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center, Boys and Girls Club and Schenectady County Community College participated in the conference that addressed issues that are common to them, but, unique to urban schools.  Topics included emotional and mental health, culturally responsive teaching, improving literacy, classroom strategies, crisis co-regulaton, data driven differentiation, protocols for student learning, restorative practice, family engagement, higher order thinking, trauma and more.

     “I am excited and proud of the rich program offered to educators at the Urban Schools Conference,” said Larry Spring, superintendent of Schenectady Schools.  “In addition to the knowledge, insight and expertise that Dr. Christopher Emdin brings, this conference provides administrators, teachers and clinicians unique opportunities to collaborate, share ideas, strategize, and to try new tools, designed to address the issues and tackle the challenges that are unique to urban educators.  This is important work that must be done to close the opportunity gap and ensure that race, economics and disability are no longer predictors of student achievement.”

    “Equity and access to rigorous high quality programming are two of the biggest issues that our students face, particularly those in urban environments,” said Anita Murphy, district superintendent for Capital Region BOCES.  “It’s conferences like these that can help us begin to understand how to level the educational playing field in order to ensure that all students succeed.”

    Kathleen Wiley, 7th grade social studies teacher at Central Park Middle School, was excited to be part of the conference and especially anxious to hear Emdin speak.  “The professional development content, being delivered with the unique needs of our kids in mind, make this an invaluable day,” she said.  “Dr. Emdin’s book, For White Folks Who Live in the Hood, was career changing for me because it reminded me to be a fearless advocate for my students.”

    Emdin, who is an Associate Professor of Science Education and Director of Science Education in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University and Associate Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education, presented the keynote address.

    Educators were excited to hear Emdin, who is well-known in education for his speeches on the crisis of urban education, teaching and learning from the student’s standpoint, hip-hop and education and rethinking STEM.

    Emdin has received many accolades.  He was awarded the 2016 Early Career Award by the American Educational Researchers Association and was named 2015 Multicultural Educator of the Year by the National Association of Multicultural Educators.

    He was selected as a STEM Access Champion of Change by the White House and serves as Minorities in Energy Ambassador for the U.S. Department of Energy.  Emdin was listed on the ROOT100 list of most influential African Americans in the fields of business, science, politics, technology, social justice, sports and entertainment. 

    Emdin is also  founder of the #HipHopEd movement.  In addition to the New York Times bestselling book, For White Folks Who Teach In the Hood… and the Rest of Ya’ll Too, which inspired Wiley, Emdin authored the award-winning, Urban Science Education for the Hip-hop Generation.

    The conference was the first of its kind offered by Schenectady Schools to district administrators, teachers and clinicians and on an large external site, such as the Albany Capital Center and nearby Renaissance Albany Hotel, offering enough space to accommodate the program needs of six speakers, almost two dozen breakout sessions and more than a thousand educators coming from different areas.

    “We are thrilled that the Schenectady City School District chose the Albany Capital Center for their Urban Schools Conference,” said Doug McClaine, general manager, Albany Capital Center.  “The ACC’s flexible meeting space works perfectly for the planned breakout sessions, keynote speaker and workshops.  We are pleased to welcome educators from the greater Capital District to Albany as they address the unique challenges that urban educators face today.”

    In order to give participants the opportunity to listen to multiple speakers, as well as, participate in a variety of sessions, the speakers and workshops were broken into three sessions and held throughout the day.  A wide range of topics were covered by the five featured speakers who were Hall Davidson, Byron Garrett, Stacy Kaczmarek, Dr. Richard Milner and Dr. Allison Sampson-Jackson.  The speakers focused on many pertinent topics including understanding trauma, meeting needs of students, awareness and empathy, culturally responsiveness and building resilience.

    Three ed camps, with conversation directed by the participants, were hosted by Milner, Sampson-Jackson and Dr. Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, during lunch break. 

    Working together to tackle the issues that are unique to urban educators is not only important to school leaders and the teachers in the classroom.  These are issues, and this is work, that impacts an entire community.

     “In order to strengthen our cities in the capital region, we must address the needs of our young people and tackle the challenges of urban schools,” said Mark Eagan, CEO of Capital Region Chamber.  “The Urban Schools Conference is a significant and powerful step toward building important partnerships, pooling resources, sharing ideas and expertise and addressing the important challenges that many urban educators face.  The Capital Region Chamber is proud to partner with the Schenectady School District, and all of our participating urban schools, in the collaborative efforts to make our urban communities stronger and healthier.” 

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