This week the Convention Preview started hitting everyone’s mailboxes, and it has been so exciting to watch the enthusiasm grow for our upcoming event. We’re only 12 weeks away! In the days to come, you can expect regular updates; today Jocelyn Chadwick and I wanted to tell you about some of the behind-the-scenes things we’ve got underway.
Travel safety is one project I’ve been hard at work on with the CEO of Explore St. Louis (the city’s convention & visitors bureau). Last week they agreed to underwrite a hefty portion of the fees for shuttle service for all attendees to and from the St. Louis airport. All 2017 NCTE Convention attendees will be offered the opportunity to book an insured shuttle service for $10 one way, $20 round trip. Reservations must be made by 11/13 for adequate fleet planning. The negotiated shuttle provider is GoBest, and you can secure your ride here.
Additionally, Explore St. Louis plans to have volunteers stationed at the largest convention hotels to offer local information and share walking directions. Volunteers will also be stationed at the St. Louis Airport to welcome arriving attendees and offer orientation information.
Explore St. Louis is working closely with us, understanding our concerns. Here’s a message from their president, Kitty Ratcliffe: “We’re committed to making sure NCTE convention attendees feel safe and welcome in our city.”
Local Engagement Committee
NCTE members responded affirmatively to the call for volunteers to serve on the local engagement committee. The NCTE Executive Committee held a special meeting this week, online, to collaborate on next steps. The Presidential Team has created a draft of the committee’s charge and, after EC review, will move forward. Smart, holistic, and deliberate ideas have been brought forward for consideration. We can anticipate this committee coming up with strategies for engaging with local schools, addressing the policy issues at play in the state, and more.
We’re happy to have Aldophus Pruitt, the president of the St. Louis NAACP, on the committee. Last week he said, “The more we get to know NCTE, the more important we believe it is that you come to St. Louis, Missouri. We have a lot to offer one another. This is the beginning of an important partnership.”
Through this process, it has become clear that having a local engagement committee should be a regular feature of all future convention sites, and the Presidential Team is working to formalize that commitment.
Here is what Jocelyn has to share:
As Program Chair and part of the leadership within NCTE, my work is driven by NCTE’s mission and strategic plan. In preparation for this Convention, I’ve leveraged this work with the Council, as well as work I’ve done through Harvard, to support members and students with a focus on inclusion and empowerment. Here is what that looks like in action.
I’ve been visiting and collaborating with ELA teachers (MS/HS/College) and working with students in their classrooms—in person and digitally—in preparation for November.
One partnership I’m very excited about is with Lift for Life Academy in St. Louis. You can read more about that work in this blog post. I have promised the students at this school that I will visit in November prior to Convention, and I look forward to doing so.
While some of this work has focused on Missouri, this map shows all the other states (and one Canadian province) whose classrooms I will have worked with by the Convention:
My projects with these classrooms represent a blending of on-the-ground and digital collaboration and teaching—all of which epitomize NCTE’s aim to provide support, resources, research, and examples to teachers and students to foment lifelong literacy. You can look forward to seeing the fruits of these collaborations on display in November.
I have also begun a new project with Jimmy Santiago Baca, American Book Award–winning poet, and two directors of the Federal Bureau of Prisons on a literacy pilot in El Paso, Texas. This work focuses on literacy not only for the incarcerated individuals in the pilot program, but also provides similar conversations and gatherings for their families and especially their children.
As program chair, a priority for me this year has been seeking the involvement of members who have never been “tapped” before to volunteer their time, expertise, and effort to committees, panels, and the work of NCTE. I am joined by the Executive Committee and Executive Director in this pursuit. Our aim has been and continues to be that membership knows NCTE belongs to them and leadership supports them and their students. It has been energizing to see so many new voices step forward to be part of this work.
All of this is replicable, and it is my hope that the foundations laid at this Convention set the stage for more work of this nature moving forward. Stay tuned for more good news. We can’t wait to see you all in St. Louis!