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Conference Innovations with PDK and FEA in Altanta  

By Connie Phelps, Ed.D.

For the first time, Phi Delta Kappa held its annual international conference (February 17-18) in conjunction with the Future Educators Association annual meeting (February 18-20) with more than 1,000 members attending the Friday evening banquet at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Georgia. PDK Flint Hills chapter members Zeni Colorado and Connie Phelps attended both conferences in a variety of roles. As an honoree, Zeni participated in special conference sessions as a member of the 2011 class of Emerging Leaders beginning Wednesday and concluding with a luncheon Thursday open to all members. Once a Kappan is selected as an emerging leader, the individual may continue to attend these annual training sessions.

PDK International Conference
With a conference theme of “Innovations in Teaching and Learning,” PDK International at-large board member Yong Zhao kicked off Thursday afternoon events with the keynote, “Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization.” The afternoon President-Elect candidate forum included our former Region C Regional Rep, Patricia Williams, as well as candidates Frank Nappi, Jr. and John Sukula. The evening Welcome Reception provided refreshments for members as they gathered to meet and greet one another.

Conference events on both Thursday and Friday included scholarly research sessions, roundtable presentations consisting of brief action research reports, topical sessions, and networking events. Regional meetings provide a venue for chapters to share ideas that work and focus resources. Kansas is now part of Region B which includes nine states plus Mexico, so Zeni and Connie attended the regional meeting which President Sandee Crowther facilitated. Chapters members introduced themselves and interacted with Field Representative Nancy Young (see photo).

Friday keynote speakers featured Byron Garrett, President and CEO of Life Works International with his book-based “The ABCs of Life” talk, and Peggy Brookins, a math instructor in Ocala, Florida, who directs the Engineering and Manufacturing Institute of Technology (E.M.I.T) supported by a 1.2 million dollar state grant. Bridging the PDK and FEA conferences was evening event with keynoter Bill Nye the Science Guy who serves as executive director of The Planetary Society. The banquet room was packed with attendees to hear this entertaining and accomplished man with a mission. The full conference book is available to download

FEA International Conference
Building on the Friday evening momentum, Saturday and Sunday events of the 22nd annual Future Educators Association addressed the conference theme, “Teaching is the Gateway to the World.” Approximately 700 middle, high school and college FEA chapter members and their advisors from schools across the country gathered to elect international student officers for the first time, attend breakout sessions and compete in onsite events. These enthusiastic and energetic future educators provided a vital force in both conferences.

Kansas FEA chapters from Wichita and Blue Valley attended the conference, and Emporia State University sponsored a College Day exhibit table with door prizes which Zeni hosted with assistance from Connie. A morning session introduced the student officer candidates, and FEA advisors met during a regional and state directors meeting. The luncheon featured Public Service competition announcements and keynote speaker Christopher Emdin, a Science Education faculty member at Teachers College, Columbia University. A former PDK Emerging Leader and PDK Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award recipient, Chris uses hip-hop to teach science to urban youth.

The four FEA competition events were Impromptu Speech, Job Interview, Public Service Announcements, and Ethical Dilemma. Connie served as an onsite judge for the Ethical Dilemma competition which consisted of a scenario in which chapter members acted as the honor council making a recommendation on an ethical education-related dilemma using critical thinking skills and persuasive communications techniques to a panel of three judges who acted as school administrators. Although a new competition in 2011, the Ethical Dilemma competed proved quite popular with 27 schools competing!

The FEA conference closed with a Sunday morning breakfast general session with newly elected international student officers introduced and competition winners announced. Connie visited with Blue Valley FEA advisors and chapter members and found the innovative conferencing with PDK and FEA conferences scheduled back-to-back proved a win-win for both organizations. The 23rd Annual FEA International Conference will be held February 17-19, 2012, in Baltimore, Maryland. More information is available at

Picture of Zeni Colorado and Sandee Crowther
Flint Hills Chapter Member, Zeni Colorado, is recognized as part of the
2011 Class of Emerging Leader

Picture of Nancy Young
Nancy Young,
PDK Field Representative for Kansas  

Picture of Connie Phelps and Zeni Colorado at ESU Table
Connie Phelps and Zeni Colorado at Emporia State University College Day Exhibit Table

Picture from PDK Conference
Flint Hills Chapter Member Connie Phelps, President-Elect candidate Patricia Williams and former Emerging Leader Christie McWilliams during Friday Luncheon Banquet
(from left to right)

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