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Shawnee State University’s education department takes students to OMLA conference

Shawnee State University (SSU) students attended the Ohio Middle Level Association Conference (OMLA) Nov. 9-11. Students were given ample opportunities to develop their professional knowledge around teaching middle school students (grades 4-8). Gerry Brooks and Chris Singleton were both the keynote speakers. 

Brooks was the first speaker at the conference and discussed the idea of climate and culture in the classroom. He explained that educators cannot wait for the climate and culture to change, but that they must be the change. 

Brooks also discussed the importance of accepting other people’s personality types.

“Not everyone is going to like the same things, dress like you do, or worship the way you worship,” he said. “You have to accept them.”

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He noted that it is miserable working with someone who is miserable all of the time, so do not be that co-worker. How you respond to people when they make mistakes is how they will respond when you make mistakes. So, if you respond with grace and understanding, then they will respond in that way to you when you make mistakes, “and you will make mistakes.” 

Singleton explained his story on the last night of the OMLA conference. His mother was murdered in the 2015 Mother Emanuel Church tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina. While he shared a heartfelt testimony of the love of his mother, he recounted that the reason his mother was murdered was because someone did not teach him love. He stated that the best way to fight hatred is not with more hatred but with love. 

Singleton has spoken to thousands of students and educators, spreading his message of love. This speech encouraged many of the educators, and he hoped that they would remember this as they returned to their classrooms, to teach love to their students, and unity. 

Throughout the conference, there were many speakers. One speaker, author and English teacher Katie Kinder, spoke on points from her book Untold Teaching Truths.

“Don’t die on every hill,” she said. “Pick three.”

Her hills are the safety of her students, engaging and relevant lesson plans, and kindness. 

Kinder also stated that as a teacher, you can only control what happens in your classroom, so have enough courage and confidence to be firm but also kind and respectful. 

To learn more about the OMLA 2023 conference and how to get involved, click here.

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About the Contributor
Keri Callihan, Staff Writer
Keri Callihan is an integrated language arts AYA 7-12 major at Shawnee State University who lives in Wheelersburg. She is a 2020 graduate of Portsmouth High School. Keri aspires to be an English teacher and hopes to challenge each of her future students to have confidence in themselves and to pursue their education either by going to college or to a trade school. She is the first member of her own family to pursue a college degree. Keri's favorite book is The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. She said the book has been very meaningful to her because it helped her get through a tough situation in her life. In addition to her parents, Christy and John, Keri's family includes two sisters, Katelynn and Sierra. Keri attends Rubyville Community Church, where she enjoys singing as a soloist or in the choir. She also teaches Sunday school to children ages 5-9 every week and is passionate about doing community service with the outreach ministry at her church.

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