By Diane Tinucci, Educational Opportunities Coordinator
Area educators look forward to it every year! And, they were not disappointed, as METC, the Missouri Education Technology Community Conference held in at the St. Charles Convention Center in February, was richer in information, ideas, and access to “ed-tech” leaders than ever. In its 33rd year, METC gathered experts and experiences around its theme: Emerge, Evolve, Elevate, Educate. I had intended to share news of new teaching strategies and innovative technology learned at METC, but I quickly became more impressed by a different and far more significant resource. (Certainly, I’m excited by Novel Engineering, an integrated approach to teaching engineering and literacy where students develop projects based on texts they read in English or history. But that aside, something far more wonderful was at this conference.)
Striding toward my presentation room, I passed tables staffed by students. Students, the central reason educators reap the wealth at conferences such as METC, were educational leaders in their own right. One table, labelled Pattonville Pirate Press and Pirate Echo, contained students engrossed in speed typing. In questioning several of these articulate young adults, I learned that they were responsible for eNews conference coverage. They were reporting on the events, stories, and personalities of METC and posting updates to Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, as well as to Pattonville Today. Prepare to be impressed by items titled “Couros inspires through innovation, competitive collaboration,” “Davis inspires educators to open their minds to students,” and “Students become teachers at #METC16.” Journalism advisor Brian Heyman was quick to credit his charges for their competence and professionalism, but his leadership excellence was evident. The kids’ excellence? Off the charts.
A table of Ritenour High School broadcast journalism students buzzed behind Pattonville. Speaking primarily to producer Mekaila Wareen and interviewer Isabel Clark, I learned that this group interviewed keynote speakers and significant presenters. Cameraman Alex Peterson and Editor Nick Klingerman “basically narrowed 10 minutes to a 45 second interview highlighting its most important ideas.” These final productions found their way to Ritenour Live and podcasts. Supported by Barry Thornbern, Brandon Pelletier, and Brendon Klohr, this cadre of kids could have moved effortlessly to the 10 o’ clock news. METC invited them in, gave them significant responsibility, and they redefined the expectation of excellence.
METC charged yet another group with significant responsibility—technical assistance to presenters!!! As I opened my laptop case to set up for our HEC-TV presentation, a gracious young man in a METC Tech Crew shirt approached me to ask, “Do you need any help setting up your technology?” I moved aside to see a blur of hands connect, plug, and switch. Joined by Hancock Place student Corey Watkins, Parkway Central junior Garrett French had things well under control when South Tech High School Network Administration Instructor, Michele Myers, came in to check. She shared that for five years, North Tech advisor Jim Elkins, and she for two, had supervised a 20-student tech support crew. This year, they provided support to over 100 presenters, 2400 attendees, and 3500 devices. The crew reported they enjoyed “feeling like they were helping even if it was only plugging something in or making the slide show work on the projector.” As my presentation began, Garrett told me he would be right outside, should I need anything.
Meeting these kids, I don’t think we need anything. As they minimized their impact, those, like me, that they served did not. We should still keep attending excellent conferences like METC, and we should still keep implementing the best of what we find there. But, my conference takeaway is that the students we serve are investing our efforts in their excellence. Our future is in good hands.