CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A total of 975 teachers across Southern West Virginia are learning new initiatives in math, science, and reading for Pre-K through 12 educational standards.

The West Virginia Department of Education is host to the 2024 Infuse, Network, Value, Engage, Support and Target Conference, or INVEST for four days in Charleston.

As part of the INVEST Conference, teachers are getting to sit in on various workshops led by educational experts providing updates and professional development on learning initiatives, state codes, and standards to take back with them to their classrooms for the upcoming school year.

WVDE Pre K-12 Academic Support Director Erika Klose told MetroNews that the conference gives teachers more learning tools to better educate their students. 

“This is an opportunity for educators just to receive intensive professional learning related to things that we know are important,” Klose said.

She said they are always learning better ways to meet the educational needs of students in West Virginia and major conferences like this one allows WVDE to pass those new ways along to teachers.

Sharon Cole, a 2nd grade teacher at Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School in Wayne County was recently selected as the 2024 West Virginia Teacher of the Year.

Cole said being in education is always a constant learning process for the teachers just as much as it is for the students, especially working up to obtain the honor of Teacher of the Year.

She said it’s always crucial for teachers to get to attend such conferences to learn the new teaching standards from professionals, but Cole added that sometimes the most effective piece of knowledge she takes back with her from the seminars are aspects she picks up from other fellow teachers.

“I sat and chatted with another teacher, we were given time to gather resources and we were helping each other and I just looked at her and I said, ‘tell me something really interesting you did in your classroom’ and she did and I thought wow, if I get nothing else just to be able to gather those ideas and those resources from other educators, it’s a gift,” she said.

Cole said her favorite part of teaching is the students. She said often times she learns a lot from them as well.

“As a teacher, our goal is to teach our students, but after 35 years in this profession, I’ve found that they have been the teacher, I feel like they’ve made me the best version of myself as an educator and a person,” Cole said.

Cole said she is also excited because she is soon off to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. She said that will also get her inspired to take what she learns there and bring it into her classroom.

Along with learning about updates in reading, science and social studies curriculum at the conference, elementary and secondary teachers were also picking up new standards in mathematics for the coming school year.

On Thursday, Klose said teams of educators will be on hand to learn about new standards within career and technical programs and special education programs as well.

Klose said teachers always need the support to update their practice as the educational landscape is constantly changing.

“As the needs of our students change, in turn the needs of our educators change, and we do all that we can to support our educators as the world changes, as our content standards change, as we learn better ways to meet the needs of our kids, we are supporting our educators,” Klose said.

WVDE will host the INVEST Conference for educators in the northern half of the state in July. It will be held in Morgantown July 24-July 26 at the Marriot Hotel at Waterfront Place.

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