'Attitude is contagious': Sumter 3-day professional development conference focuses on teachers

BY BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 6/14/18

bout 500 attendees have descended upon Lakewood High School and downtown Sumter this week for Sumter School District's first-ever professional development conference.

That total consists of about 420 district teachers and administrators for whom …

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'Attitude is contagious': Sumter 3-day professional development conference focuses on teachers

Posted

About 500 attendees have descended upon Lakewood High School and downtown Sumter this week for Sumter School District's first-ever professional development conference.

That total consists of about 420 district teachers and administrators for whom the conference was designed, numerous outside presenters who came to share their wisdom and some selected guests from neighboring school districts.

On Wednesday morning and afternoon, professional development sessions for teachers and staff were held at Lakewood before a downtown block party was hosted for them Wednesday night at La Piazza and on Main Street.

Wednesday's sessions covered myriad topics - from teacher leadership to personal attitude and classroom technology and about everything else in between - according to attendees.

A total of 86 presenters - some internal to the district and many from the outside - are leading the various development sessions at the three-day event, which concludes today.

The kickoff for Wednesday's activities for all attendees was a presentation in the high school's fine arts center from keynote speaker Sam Glenn, an author, motivational speaker and abstract artist. Glenn does about 100 speaking engagements across the U.S. a year on attitude, he said.

Later in the day, Glenn also held one-hour breakout sessions titled "A Kick in the Attitude."

Glenn emphasized a person or school district must work to get better every single day, that "attitude is contagious," and to look at changes and challenges as opportunities to grow.

Using a piece of his own abstract artwork, Glenn shared that so many people "are focused on the mess" and challenges they face daily that they don't find their heart (a small heart-shaped figure drawn into the tapestry) through some form of gratitude and can't see the beautiful abstract that can be created in the full picture.

"I call it finding the heart in your mess," Glenn said. "The heart is what you are grateful for. The heart is that thing that you hold onto that gives you hope, inspiration, courage and resilience to keep going. You must keep growing and choose an attitude that works for you and others you associate with."

Several attendees found Glenn's session and the others to be helpful.

Pocalla Springs Elementary School Assistant Principal Candy Richburg said she was pleased with the conference and various presenters.

"There is so much positive energy here this week," Richburg said. "The variety of workshops is great, and there's something for everyone to recharge your battery."

Besides Glenn's attitude session, Richburg said she attended a new educational program session called AVID 101, a vocabulary workshop and a hands-on technology workshop.

Interim Superintendent Debbie Hamm, part of the steering committee for the conference, said she previously helped put on professional development conferences while serving in Richland District 2 in Columbia but that nothing was on the level of this event.

She said she thinks this week's conference ranks as good as a national-level event given the variety of subjects tackled, quality of keynote speakers and the community support that was provided to help put it on.

She noted that Wednesday night's block party for Sumter educators was fully funded by private-sector businesses and industries in Sumter.

"The business community has shown they are invested in our teachers, and that shows it means a lot to be a teacher here," Hamm said. "That makes Sumter an attractive place for teachers."