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Clarkston teachers share expertise at conference in London

Nancy Mahoney presents a program based on Clarkston schools to teachers from around the world. Photo provided (click for larger version)
October 23, 2013 - About 250 educators from around the world attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education Project Zero conference in London, England, Oct. 4-6.

Four of them were from Clarkston—Nancy Mahoney, Amy Hohlbein, Amy Quayle, and Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock.

"This was a conference just like the one Clarkston Community Schools hosted a year ago and it included a global audience of educators sharing ideas on how to enhance students' learning experiences," Rock said. "Amy Quayle and Amy Hohlbein received rave reviews for their sessions, entitled Engaging Adolescents in the Secondary Classroom. In fact, they were asked to repeat their presentation at future conferences, because it was so good."

Teachers in attendance were from Africa, Turkey, Costa Rica, Singapore, India, Spain, England, Hong Kong, Italy, and the United States. Less than 30 served as conference presenters, Rock said.

Mahoney and Rock presented "What Roles Might Disturbance Play in the 21st Century Classroom and Building a Culture of Thinking: Routines, Structures, Strategies, and Stick-to-itiveness."

Mahoney told the Springfield Plains Elementary story, engaged participants in thinking routines, and gave examples of using big ideas to go deep with students' thinking.

"Audience members were enthralled," Rock said. "Mrs. Mahoney showed a video of Beth Rogers' classroom, which was produced by Clarkston TV and Scott Banks, and it was absolutely terrific."

All participants paid their own ways to London, with a contribution from the Clarkston Foundation.

"About $3,000 out of our own pockets to go," Rock said. "This was perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a distinct honor, a chance for Clarkston to shine brightly, and a tremendous moment of pride to see our educators sharing stories from our classrooms and having these stories shape educational experiences for children around the world."

Harvard Professors David Perkins and Howard Gardner mentioned Clarkston specifically in front of the entire conference as a school system that is shaping regional thinking on education.

"They listed Clarkston among three such leaders in the world and over the last 50 years," Rock said. "They talked about how the district is a change agent and a model for others to follow. Keep in mind that David Perkins and Howard Gardner are two of the preeminent educational scholars of our generation—Macarthur Genius Award winners, authors, leading minds, educational consultants to governments around the world, founders of Multiple Intelligences, etc."

Phil Custodio

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