Tired but happy, and minds full of ideas and passion for their profession, IEA members from all over the state left the campus
of Lewiston’s Lewis-Clark State College last Saturday after their annual four-day summer rite of professional development, rejuvenation and comradery.
There’s no question that 2022’s version of IEA’s Summer Institute was a hit.
“Because everyone involved is heavily invested in the success of public education…and you live it with one another for four days and nights, one leaves physically tired, mentally stimulated, emotionally buoyed, and professionally lifted,” said Carmi Scheller, an elementary school teacher in the West Ada School District.
Offered by IEA’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Summer Institute is designed for exactly the kind of experience Scheller left with. The four day conference is free for IEA members, including lodging and meals. But this year’s added spice: it the first in-person Summer Institute since 2019, thanks to the pandemic.
“The ability to be back together to network with colleagues from across the state, learn tips, tricks, and strategies that help them hone their teaching skills, and to refill their cup in preparation for the new year really gave this year an added atmosphere of anticipation and fun,” said Linda Jones, director of IEA’s Region 4 and coordinator of CTL’s trainings.
The theme this year’s Summer Institute, “Into the Future,” came alive for educators with the help of three special keynote speakers.
Soa’ali’i Moliga, Emmanuel Kyei and Dalton Laney, each recent or soon-to-be graduates of North Idaho public high schools, joined forces to tell the dozens of Summer Institute participants about the roles educators played helping them move “into the future.” The trio delivered their separate remarks during lunch on the first full day of Summer Institute.
“Our past is simply too important, and as teachers, the things of your past — the countless lessons, connections, and overcome trials — are too great to be pushed into the back of our minds, especially now,” said Laney, salutatorian of Lewiston High School’s class of 2022. “The effect that your past has had on countless futures is simply immeasurable.”
Lindsay Hutson, an elementary music teacher in North Idaho’s Lakeland School District called Summer Institute the “best professional development led by educators for educators that is free for IEA members.”
“It is a great way to network, learn and earn professional development credits that are meaningful and help you to become an even better educator,” Hutson said. “The course work is always applicable to your classroom (even the elementary music classroom) and isn’t cumbersome to complete.”
More than 60 educator-designed trainings were on offer, including more than a dozen online, with a wide range of professional and personal learning in topics like understanding the dyslexic mind, classroom management, educator self-care, student loan forgiveness, career advancement and the politics of education. But this year, after some of the most challenging years to ever face their profession, many educators dug a little deeper.
“This summer, in particular, I engaged in multiple conversations with educators who had lost their ‘why’ and regained enough of it through classes provided at Summer Institute to not only stay in education, but also were empowered to embrace and celebrate their renewed dedication,” Scheller said.
No matter their motivation — deepening their practice, reconnecting with colleagues and friends, giving and receiving mentorship, or simply rekindling their passion for a noble profession — this year’s batch of Summer Institute alums found their way home with a warm glow that had nothing to do with the blistering summer heat.
“IEA’s Summer Institute is a part of how I recharge and prepare for another year of teaching,” said Jake Smulkowski, a fifth grade teacher in Post Falls. “Being able to connect with colleagues, share stories, and participate in the best professional development in the State of Idaho is invaluable to me.”