Future Teacher Conference helps students learn about teaching profession

Senator Priscilla Dunn greets students at the conference.

Senator Priscilla Dunn greets students at the conference.

By MICHELLE ADAMS / Community Columnist
What subject should I teach? Should I teach in an elementary, middle or high school? What is a real day like for a teacher?
These questions and more were among the topics students could explore at the first Future Teacher Conference held at the Shelby County Instructional Services Center in November, sponsored by the Montevallo High School Future Educators Association.
After a keynote speech by State Senator Priscilla Dunn (19th District), students had two rotations of eight sessions from which to choose.
From specific subject areas and vocational education to networking and teaching beyond secondary, students had the opportunity to learn all aspects of an educational career from teachers working in schools today.
“I wanted students who are considering a career in education to have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with experienced teachers,” MHS FEA sponsor Dawn Cabrera said. “When we have attended state conferences in the past, some students couldn’t attend the trip and many that did felt they didn’t get enough personal advice from the speakers. I aimed to address that and have students understand the reality of teaching from those in the classroom or those supporting our teachers.”
Over 40 students attended the half-day conference from Montevallo, Helena and Hoover high schools.
After starting the morning hearing from Senator Dunn, who spoke of her life story, her own experiences as a teacher and advice for teachers, Dr. Lewis Brooks, assistant superintendent of Shelby County Schools, concluded the conference.
Brooks challenged students as to what kind of teacher they want to be and explained the best ways to get there.
“I was able to determine how much training is needed to be a teacher and to find out what teachers have experienced,” MHS freshman Jessie Evans said. “Meeting Senator Dunn was a special moment for me because not only has she been a teacher, but now she is in a position to make positive changes for education. She can help make laws to benefit students.”
In addition to teachers and administrators, University of Montevallo professors offered support for the conference as well.
“For this to have been our first venture, I feel it was a successful conference,” Cabrera said. “We had amazing support from our local schools and Shelby County, and the university.  Our students really benefited from hearing the expertise of others and many have expressed a renewed focus on a particular teaching career path.”