The Southern Oklahoma Technology Center will host the first of five professional development events that will take place across the state that help educators and teachers hone their skills. The Refresh Summit, as the event has been named, will be on Aug. 2 and allows teachers and administrators the opportunity for professional development in their area. 

“With all the budget cuts we knew there’d be no way we can offer a centralized conference,” said Sarah Julian, communications director for the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center. Julian said that often times professional development is one of the first things to be cut in school budgets. With that in mind, OPSRC decided to make the training more accessible and create five different events across the state, bringing the training closer to many schools. 

OPSRC uses local organizations to host the events and the localized conferences seek to eliminate travel costs and allow for more access. School districts who are members of the resource center may register any number of staff members at no charge. Districts that are not members pay $100 per attendee. 

The highly interactive conferences are aimed at “high-quality professional development” and allows teachers to play a direct role in the topics covered. When teachers register, they will be asked what topics they would like to learn more about and discuss in more depth. The topics of discussion are then centered around those topics, allowing teachers to learn more about the specific topics they’re interested in covering. Sessions regarding social media, apps based on education and the new Math and English standards are also topics on the agenda for the conference. The teacher input allows the conference to cater to the teachers’ needs and allows the event’s topics to grow, according to Julian. 

Teachers are also encouraged to bring an iPad, smartphone or other online capable devices as the topics and events will encourage “live tweeting” and social media engagement through the sessions. Attendees will be able to pose questions, network, learn about new technologies and broadcast their thoughts during the conference via social media. 

In addition to the breakout sessions and discussions, the conference will have break areas where teachers can take online courses, network with colleagues and provides a pool of school supplies called “Restore,” which were donated by Feed the Children. With the various budget cuts and struggles of districts across the state, the conference’s goal is to serve as a time to acknowledge those challenges and prepare for the upcoming school year.

“We want this day to be a time for educators from various districts to come together, reflect on and acknowledge the challenges we’re facing in education but then look forward to identify positive solutions that we can implement,” said OPSRC Director of Teaching and Learning Carole Kelley in a OPSRC press release. “We want everyone to leave feeling ‘Refreshed’ and reinvigorated for the new school year.”

Event schedules, dates and registration can be found on refreshsummit.net.