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What a fantastic first day at NCEA 2019!

Chicago, Illinois is well-known worldwide as the home of the Cubs, the Bears, the Bulls, the Blackhawks, the White Sox and, of course, The Bean. For the next few days, though, this bustling city is also home of the 2019 National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) Convention & Expo!

Our Sycamore team loves attending NCEA’s annual event, which is the largest gathering of Catholic school educators in the world. Today, from our home-away-from-home (also known as Booth #1019 in the Expo Hall), we have enjoyed seeing and connecting with so many familiar faces and friends, and meeting new friends, too. Seeing so many educators from so many different places is a strong reminder of just how important their work is to the nearly 2 million students they serve in their schools.

The first day of NCEA 2019 offered so many opportunities for fellowship, learning, and networking. The Opening Eucharistic Liturgy, delivered by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, served to focus hearts and minds on the mission of Catholic school educators.

This year’s keynote address during the opening ceremonies and general session featured Ann Garrido, whose topic was “Embracing Grace in the 21st Century Church.” Her talk focused on the small ‘graces’ that sustain Catholic educators during challenging times. Ann has worked in the field of Catholic education for over 25 years, taught students of every grade level, has been a long-time faculty member at the Aquinas Institute of Theology, recently completed a visiting professorship at the University of Notre Dame, and is the author of eight books.

In between exploring all the cool products and services in the expo hall, the first day of NCEA 2019 also included nearly 90 professional development sessions. Yes, you read that right—nearly 90 sessions in six (6) tracks, providing knowledge and insight into some powerful topics. It’s inspiring to see how impactful and diverse this year’s sessions are! Here’s a small sampling of what was offered today:

Administrator’s Toolbox Track

  • Developing Teacher Leaders Within Our Catholic Schools
  • Rural Poverty and Urban Poverty: What They Teach Us
  • National Standards and Benchmarks

Inclusive Communities Track

  • Panel Discussion: A Conversation On Racism
  • Bilingual Education Models for Catholic Schools
  • International Students in Catholic Schools
  • Show Me the Data: Inclusion in Catholic Schools

Innovation Track

  • Metaverse: Augmented Reality for Classrooms and School Marketing
  • Everyone Can Create: Ignite Creativity with iPad
  • PBL and STEAM: The Dynamic Duo

Missionary Discipleship Track

  • Forming Disciples for a Digital Age
  • Building Bridges Through Service
  • The Principal: Manager, Magician, and Minister

Teaching & Learning Track

  • Enhancing the Student Experience Using AR/VR
  • Meet the Millennial Parents
  • What Young People Want You to Know (But Don’t Tell You)
  • Teaching About Religion in a Polarized Age
  • Teaching Classic Novels for Social Justice

Strategic Leadership Track

  • Catholic School Governance: Understanding Authority, Roles, and Responsibilities
  • Teacher’s Legal Toolbox

Wrapping up day one was the awards dinner. During this celebratory event, Debra Meyer-Myrum, principal of Holy Trinity Catholic School in Pierz, Minnesota, was honored as the recipient of the 2019 Lead, Learn, Proclaim Award from the National Catholic Education Association for dedication and commitment to excellence in Catholic education. This annual award honors those whose ministry is Catholic school education and who have demonstrated a strong Catholic educational philosophy as well as exceptional efforts, dedication, and achievements. Debra was chosen from more than 150,000 teachers and administrators, as well as diocesan leaders and organizations dedicated to the nation’s Catholic schools.

As you can see in the photos below, it was a great first day for Sycamore Education at NCEA 2019!

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