Rachel Nall, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies with a special education concentration at Texas State University, got up at 4 a.m. Saturday to drive to Texas Wesleyan.

Her destination was the Texas State Teachers Association Student Program District 4 Professional Development Conference, a day’s worth of lectures and networking for education students.

The event, held in Lou’s Place, was a chance for students to refine their teaching knowledge and skills, and Nall said she was there to explore networking opportunities before graduating from school.

“It will be great to show potential employers the kind of hours like this that you need to have for your own professional development, and I’m willing to make that effort,” Nall said.

Swymeala Lampkins, M.Ed. and assistant principal at D. McRae Elementary, stressed in her presentation the importance empowering students regardless of the circumstance.

“We have got to make sure we invest in our children. They are our future,” Lampkins said. “Remember, your first important duty is to build. We have to be builders.”

Crystal Webb, senior liberal studies EC-6 major, and TSTA-SP District 4 president, coordinated the event, now in its fourth year, and was excited to have the various speakers come and present their experiences in professional development.

“One of my passions about TSTA-SP is that they have your back legally, and it’s a positive association,” Webb said. “It advocates for teachers, which is needed. We don’t really hear positive feedback in the media, and we need that.”

Webb feels that because TSTA-SP  helps her, she will in turn be able to help others. She believes that holding these conferences with speakers that have the background and knowledge to help students with their careers will enhance the quality of their future students’ education.

“I am all about positive,” Webb said. “Anything that can help us be positive educators, and have great impact on students and children, because they need it.”

Irene Rodriguez is currently pursuing an associate of arts in teaching from Tarrant County College, and was thrilled to attend the event to learn and network. She discovered the event though one of her TCC professors, Dr. Shereah Taylor, who gave a presentation that afternoon.

“I just wanted to hear what this was all about,” Rodriguez said. “This is my first time attending a conference, so I’m a little excited! I’m hoping that in the future I can attend more conferences like this as well.”

Jonathan Kigigha,  a Wesleyan student majoring in business administration, came across a flyer for the event by luck, but wanted to attend the event to see what it was all about.

“I realize the influence that teachers had on my life, and my direction pursuing my degree,” Kigigha said. “I just wanted to attend the conference to stay in the loop with what is going on in the public education sector. I’m just here to gain wisdom, that’s all.”

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