Pre-professional teacher conference drew more than 500 students, teachers

There was no light bulb moment for Gabrielle Kromer who realized she wanted to become a teacher. She knew it would be hard work, tiring, and at the end of the day, sometimes challenging. But that is exactly why the Grand Ledge freshman chose her future career as a special education teacher.

“It is very rewarding but a challenge,” the Eagle freshman said. “Especially when you go into a challenging classroom and you think ‘you can’t do it,' but by the end of the year it is a really great reward.”

Kromer was among 500 other pre-professional students who attended Central Michigan University’s sixth-annual “Learn Today, Teach Tomorrow" conference Saturday in Grawn Hall.

CMU students from nine student organizations, including the Student Michigan Education Association, helped plan the day-long conference, which covered a variety of workshop ranging from teaching nutrition in schools to finding work overseas.

Dearborn Heights senior Joanna Maguire, who helped oversee this event, said the conference attempted to cover as many areas as possible.

“I think the biggest thing is how to get plugged in,” she said. “How to learn not only about the content areas but little tricks of the trade and also ‘how do I go about getting a job, what do I do once I have a job, and how can I be a better teacher?’” she said.

CMU alumnus and presenter Heather Pilarz spoke on similar topics such as surviving the first year of teaching and how to learn the basics before going out into the real world.

“I am giving people some of the tips and advice I wish I had known prior to going into teaching.” Pilarz said.

Some of her advice to pre-professionals is also to get involved early and often.

“It is very tough now to go out there and get a job, but the more experience you get now as a college student the more apt you are to get a job afterward,” she said.

Clarkston resident Laura Hickey came two hours away to attend the conference because she gets a different angle that she wouldn’t normally receive from the classroom.

“(This conference) has really impacted me because they don’t preach these kinds of things in my courses,” she said. “This is kind of another background that I can hold on to."

Hickey said she learned about how to incorporate teaching methods to include students with and without disabilities.

“Those students on both ends can learn social and academic skills,” she said. “It is about how to adapt to the everyday culture. And it is my responsibility to take this on and learn everything I can.”


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