Rising above the competition

Future educators compete at State


Photo courtesy of Millard West Library on Twitter

The Education Academy sits together in the Library watching the keynote speaker, Paul Timms through Zoom.

Jasmine Hermosillo-Padilla, Editor-in-Chief Catalyst Online

On March 17 in the library, Education Academy students participated in the final conference of their season. 

Here, students competed, and later found out their final placements for their State Competition. This included various events that tested their skills, creativity and overall performance. Due to COVID-19, the program was not able to travel to the convention center where it is normally held in Bellevue. Instead, all groups and individuals competed in the school’s library through Zoom. 

“Educators Rising is a program for students that strive to be educators of some sort,” senior Millard Academy chapter officer Laynee McAlpin said. “The group does service projects and attends many conferences every year. There are various opportunities to show your work with the research and projects that have been done for our events.”

At the start of the conference, there was a keynote speaker via Zoom. Paul Timms, the Nebraska Teacher of the Year, spoke about the future of educators and how to connect their aspects of life to understand what students may be experiencing.

After these conferences, students compete in either groups or individually. The events range from the generic lesson plans for everyday schooling to learning challenges. The students are then evaluated based on their overall performance while pitching their ideas to the judges. 

The chapter competed and placed in six categories including Impromptu Lessons, Teacher Created Materials and Lesson Plan and Delivery-STEM. 

In Teacher Created Materials, the students focused on different learning tools and how to get the most use out of resources during lessons. Overall, senior Carly Gerdes placed first, senior Gracie Nelson and senior Brooklynn Ruiz placed third and in fifth place, senior Ashley Hedrick and senior Anna Paulus. 

“To prepare for our video to submit for the competition, we created a way for a class to play a game to be able to interact in class,” senior Ashley Hedrick said. “We went with a classic board game and customized it to fit the grades and subjects we would explain on the Zoom.” 

An individual who competed in Lesson Plan and Delivery-STEM, senior Laynee McAlpin placed first in this category while Riley Opat received second. 

“I feel that I did really well and to the best of my ability,” McAlpin said. “I created my own seven-step plan for a fourth grade science lesson over ecosystems. I created my own worksheets and collected the materials to teach my lesson. Along with creating it, I had to film myself teaching my class to submit.” 

Other winners included Madison Kucera and Kaylee Tompson placing first and third in Lesson Plan and Delivery-Humanities, Alishea Peterson and Marc Hoyer placing second and third in Lesson Plan and Delivery-Arts, Mayrsue Horback and Grace Lankton with second in Research Learning Challenges and Kya Showmaker, Rebecca Humphus and Kailyn Grunke in first, second and third in Impromptu lessons.  

“Overall, our chapter did extremely well under the circumstances of COVID,” lead Education Academy teacher Ali Bragg said. “They were very flexible and made the best out of having a virtual conference and we were really happy that we even got to have it this year at all since it got canceled last year.”

Throughout the conference, the Millard Education Academy was able to present their skills to judges. Every member in the chapter that competed placed in the top five out of everyone in the state. With this in mind, the academy will begin to prepare for next season and carry on their skills and knowledge that they have learned throughout the year.