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Educators gather in Omaha

Finding ways to help students make better decisions and apply knowledge beyond simply finding the right answer are some of the skills nearly 1,500 teachers from the archdiocese's 73 Catholic schools explored Sept. 27 at the 2012 Catholic Schools Conference in Omaha.

The conference, which included Mass with Archbishop George J. Lucas, focused on ways teachers can fine-tune their skills through continued learning as professionals, said Barbara Schweiger, administrator and coordinator of human resources and school improvement for the Catholic Schools Office.

"We have an obligation to provide the highest quality education to all of our students," Schweiger said. "Our teachers have the greatest impact on student learning, and we need to provide them with the necessary tools and opportunities to continue to grow broth professionally and personally."

The Nebraska Department of Education requires a minimum of 10 hours of continuing education every year. But the archdiocese's Catholic Schools Office expects teachers to obtain at least 26 hours, including a half-day session on faith formation, Schweiger said.

Most Catholic school teachers exceed the 26 hours, and many schools have developed professional learning groups that also help educators, she said.

The conference at V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School included keynote addresses from Sister of St. Joseph Carol Cimino titled "I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did" and "Meet the Parents."

Eddie Krenson, vice president for nonpublic school services at AdvancED, which provides school improvement and accreditation services, addressed ways to integrate the Catholic identity criteria required by the archdiocese into the AdvancED Accreditation Process, a program of evaluation and external review for teachers and schools.

The conference also featured vendors from 50 different companies and 70 small group sessions on such topics as Catholic identity, school improvement, community learning activities, curriculum, assessment, addressing student needs, instructional strategies and technology updates.

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