Joining forces to present the conference, held October 31, was the SAU College of Education, the SAU Educational Renewal Zone (ERZ) and the SAU STEM Center for K-12 Education. The program reached students in grades 11-12 from several school districts across the region.
Dr. Roger Guevara, ERZ director and assistant professor of educational leadership, called the conference a success and said there will likely be another one next year. “We need more diversity in our teacher candidates and are hoping to introduce more diversity into the teaching field in general. We received excellent feedback from the students who attended. This was a great first step.”
According to the Arkansas Department of Education, 38 percent of students in Arkansas public schools are minority males, while only 10 percent of certified teachers are minorities.
Eleven educators from around the state delivered TED Talk-style presentations to 50 African-American male students. The mentors included Tracy Forte, dean of students, Mineral Springs School District; Vincent Dawson, guidance counselor at El Dorado Public Schools; Larry Dunn, Magnolia Junior High and High School choir director; Donnell Ford, Magnolia Junior High coach and history teacher; Guevara; Fred Lilly II, Camden Fairview Intermediate School at the Camden Fairview School District; Vincent Mills, Camden Fairview fourth grade STEM teacher; Rodney McCullum, ADE Educator Effectiveness & Licensure; Daryl Moore, Camden Fairview Technology Technician; Jeremy Owoh, ADE assistant commissioner of education effectiveness; and Jessie J. Walker, senior associate director, Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
In addition, mentors and their students participated in directed activities, including Round Robin activities provided by various departments at SAU.
Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU, addressed the young men and mentors, praising the conference as a wonderful opportunity. Stacy Allen, math specialist at SAU, and Dr. Lisa Oden, assistant professor of education at SAU, were instrumental in coordinating the conference.