CEDAR CITY— The Utah Rural School Conference (URSA) took place in Cedar City on July 6-8 where many South Sanpete teachers attended to learn about new ideas for helping their students.
Educators from several rural schools enjoyed networking with other educators, learning new ways of teaching and having some fun on the side.
The purpose of the URSA is to improve instruction in rural elementary and secondary schools in Utah. The mission is to advocate for educational equity on Utah’s rural school districts to help them meet the educational goals and needs of their students.
The theme for the conference was “Giving Students a Voice.” The conference provided hands-on and breakout sessions focusing on insights and interventions with strategies to close any learning loss associated with the effects of the COVD-19 pandemic. There were sessions focused on strengthening mental and behavioral health supports, social and emotional supports, grading practices, literacy best practices, strengthening the guaranteed curriculum of each school, and developing a culture of investment.
Superintendent Ralph Squire said the training is optional for the employees of the South Sanpete School District. “This is an excellent training opportunity for rural teachers from across the state with around 600 teachers in attendance,” he said.
The school district helped the teachers that chose to attend by paying the $50 registration fee and a small stipend of $100 for their attendance at the two-day conference. Squire said the principals used some of their trust lands money to help with motel costs.
The main speaker at the conference was Myron Duek. who has worked as an educator and administrator for over 22 years in both Canada and New Zealand. Through his current district position, as well as working with educators around the world, Duek continues to develop grading assessment and reporting systems which gave students a greater opportunity to show what they understand and play a significant role in the reporting of their learning.
Anita Lyons who attended the conference said that Duek gave energetic examples from his real classroom and administrative experience about how to better connect with students.
“He said there is no such thing as an average person,” Lyons said. “Every person is unique and has something to share.”