MURRAY — Educators from five different states representing 81 school districts were on the campus of Murray State University Tuesday during the annual College and Career Readiness Summit. 

The annual two-day event hosted by the university’s College of Education and Human Services will be continuing today, and provides an opportunity for teachers and administrators from districts of all shapes and sizes to engage in professional development. Kem Cothran, director of the Teacher Quality Institute at Murray State, said the event is a way for the institute to carry out its mission of promoting excellence in education. 

“Our mission is promoting excellence in teaching,” Cothran said. “So we try to take what is relevant for teachers now and pull in strong presenters.” 

This year, TQI partnered with the Kentucky Academy of Technology Education to convert the annual summit into a more comprehensive teaching and technology conference. Cothran said there were nearly 1,300 educators on campus Tuesday, with nearly 1,500 expected today. 

“Most schools and districts have a limited professional development budget,” Cothran said. “If we can offset that, then they can have some quality training for only travel expenses.” 

Tuesday’s featured speakers included Marshall County School District Superintendent Trent Lovett, who spoke on the importance of school safety, procedures to have in place and how MCSD has evolved in the wake of the shooting that took place at Marshall County High School in January 2018.

“You could have heard a pin drop with 1,300 people,” Cothran said. “He had not spoken to our local people yet, and a lot of his teachers were there as well.”

Also speaking Tuesday were Kasey Bell, the author of “Shake Up Learning from Static to Dynamic,” co-host of The Google Teacher Tribe podcast, award-winning blogger and social media influencer; Angie Judd, a licensed clinical social worker with Daviess County Public Schools who specializes in trauma-informed care; and Christine Pinto, a kindergarten teacher, founder of #GAfE4Littles, co-author of “Google Apps for Littles: Believe They Can,” and co-moderator of the #InnovatingPlay #Slow FlipChat. 

Cothran said topics included school safety, mental health, educational technology and alternative teaching methods. She said the main goal is to provide educators with the practices they need. 

“What do teachers really need? What do our principals and superintendents want our teachers to have?” Cothran said. “What can we give them that is relevant for today’s world?” 

Cotrhan said the summit also benefits the university by allowing it to showcase its master’s programs to those teachers in attendance. 

“It opens us up to promote our graduate programs,” Cothran said. “So the teachers that come in will have an opportunity to visit and learn more if they are thinking about counseling or administration. We want them to come back here and train with our teachers.” 

Cothran said it can open up a lot of doors for educators to network with one another while attending the conference. But she said that at the end of the day, the mission is to meet the needs of educators. 

“We just want to meet the needs,” she said. “How can we help promote excellence in teaching? The more we help them, the more that feeds back into classrooms. If they can learn one thing to take back next year, how many children will that benefit?”  

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