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Conference Report

October 20-23, 2011 - Royal Olympic Hotel, Athens, Greece

Educational leaders from around the NESA region and beyond attended this year’s Fall Leadership Conference at the Royal Olympic Hotel in Athens – situated directly across from the Temple of Olympian Zeus and within view of the famed Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis. It was certainly an exciting, eventful time: demonstrations, strikes, the changes in the schedule, an all-conference day trip. . .and a variety of opportunities for professional learning and personal connections.

After welcome remarks by US Ambassador Daniel Bennett Smith, Bea Cameron - Regional Education Officer from the Office of Overseas Schools, David Horner - President of the American College of Greece, and Stefanos Gialamas - President of the American Community Schools of Athens, Scott McLeod opened the conference with his keynote, “Two Big Shifts and One Big Problem: The growing disconnects between schools and our digital, global society”. Dr McLeod explored the practical realities of preparing students for the next century and adapting our own professional practices to the new digital, global era in which we live. On Saturday, Understanding by Design guru Jay McTighe in, “Beyond Unit Design: Designing an Understanding-Based Curriculum”, discussed what it means to design a curriculum from the learner’s perspective that applies “backwards design” to curriculum mapping and incorporates common “cornerstone” assessments.

Prior to the conference proper, a one-day leadership retreat entitled “A Day of Reflection and Renewal for Educational Leaders” was offered, facilitated by Carolyn McKanders. During the conference, delegates took advantage of in-depth training during four-hour institutes conducted by specialist speakers Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. A three-day Business Managers institute also took place, and more than 20 General Interest Workshops were presented by NESA members. The following awards were given: NEASC and MSA Accreditation Awards, NESA Virtual Science Fair Awards, and NESA’s Finis Engleman Award, which was bestowed on Erma Anderson, an international science/mathematics consultant with the Office of Overseas Schools.

NESA conferences are a blend of professional development and personal renewal through social and cultural events. Delegates reconnected at Wednesday’s poolside “Informal Meet & Greet” and enjoyed a breathtaking view of the Parthenon and the Temple of Olympian Zeus at Thursday’s “Welcome Reception”. Delegates spent Friday on a complimentary day tour of the ancient site of Delphi and the Byzantine Ossios Loukas Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Finally, the conference closed Sunday afternoon with a colorful Greek folkloric dance performance by the Dora Stratou Dancers.