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2011 UEA Convention

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2011 UEA Convention & Education Exposition
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2011 Highlights

Thousands of Utah educators, parents, students and others interested in public education converged on the South Towne Exposition Center October 20-21 to hear some of the professions most respected and inspiring speakers, attend workshops that motivated and challenged educators, browse an exhibit hall showcasing more than 200 vendors, and much more.

“I am always impressed by the quality of workshops,” said an educator attending the 2011 UEA Convention & Education Exposition. “I’m glad for the opportunity to socialize with teacher colleagues from around the state and share ideas,” said another. Many attendees expressed similar feelings.

Here are a few highlights:

Thursday Opening Session

UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh kicked off the 2011 UEA Convention Oct. 20 by sharing insights into the importance of teachers belonging to and participating in their professional association. Master Jeopardy! player Ken Jennings then provided the Convention keynote address. He thanked teachers for the impact they had in his life and shared his thoughts on the value of knowledge.

UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh:

I am a Utah teacher and a member of the UEA."

The phrase was repeated by Gallagher-Fishbaugh as she chronicled challenges faced over her 31-year teaching career and how her relationship with her professional association, the UEA, helped sustain her during those challenges.

“I would greet my 27 second grade students every morning with a resounding hello and perhaps a ‘Wow, Nathan love your haircut!’ I’d give an extra hug to James who longed for attention. I’d smile at Nicole and ask if she got some rest last night because I knew her parents worked two jobs and she often cared for her younger siblings late into the evening,” said Gallagher-Fishbaugh. She shared other stories of students who needed special attention.

“My Association continued to advocate for lowering my class sizes to give me more time with each child especially those who needed extra support. I wanted desperately to invite those who kept saying that class size didn’t matter to my classroom to witness the diverse needs of my students.”

Gallagher-Fishbaugh shared experiences with analyzing data to inform her instruction for each student, then her frustration as state-mandated testing requirements increased. “…I was told I had to use a prescriptive curriculum in order to meet testing mandates, to not teach a well-rounded…curriculum but rather focus only on those things which would be tested. My Association continued to fight against the testing frenzy and for valuing my expertise as a teacher. I closed my ears to those who said that anyone can teach and tests scores were the only outcome that mattered,” she said.

Gallagher-Fishbaugh explained that “several truths” inspired her to run for UEA President in 2010. “I know that teaching IS rocket science. I know that teaching is honorable and noble. I know our students and our parents appreciate and value what we do each and every day. I know teachers inspire, motivate, encourage, love, and exhort students on to greatness every day.

“I know that the Utah Education Association is my professional organization whose mission is to create a great public school for every child and I will not apologize for advocating for teachers and improving their working conditions in order to do make a difference in their classrooms.

“I am a Utah teacher and a member of the UEA and I continue put students first despite cuts in resources. I am a Utah teacher and a member of the UEA and I do my best to reach every child and embrace their individuality. I am a Utah teacher and a member of the UEA and I focus on the whole child and provide them with a rich deep learning environment. I am a Utah teacher and member of the UEA and I embrace a spirit of collaboration and excellence in my classroom. I am a Utah teacher and a member of the UEA and I proudly stand up for my profession, my association and my expertise as an educator.  I am a Utah teacher and a member of the UEA and I am not the enemy, I am the solution and I matter!”

- View the UEA President’s Keynote Address (YouTube)

Ken Jennings:

Trivia isn’t trivial at all.

Jeopardy! icon Ken Jennings told teachers attending the opening session of the UEA Convention on Oct. 20 that our culture has had a “sea change” over the past few years. Those once considered “nerds” are now much more revered by society because of the impact they can have.

“There is value to knowing lots of stuff,” Jennings said. “The more you know, the more interesting a place the world around us becomes.” He went on to explain that “a good fact in the right place may make something that was previously uninteresting become interesting.” Those facts may even changes lives, he said, giving the example of a girl who heard about a squid with an eyeball the size of a human head. The fact led the girl to an interest in sea life and she eventually became a marine biologist.

“Knowledge can become the thing that binds people together. One fact in the right place can create a relationship,” Jennings said. “One of the problems with this world is we just don’t know enough about each other. The more people know, the less likely they are to do stupid things like start wars.”

Jennings acknowledged that “knowing lots of things is not the same as being smart.” However, he said he sees “a correlation between people who know lots of stuff and people who go on to do great things.”

“Interest is the magical special sauce that makes stuff stick. We could all be a little more curious,” stated Jennings. “It’s never too early to learn and it’s never too late to learn. Learning is a lifelong activity.” Just like answers on Jeopardy! must be given in the form of a question, “we should be living our lives in the form a question,” he concluded.

‘Hot Topics and Hot Dogs’ – A UEA Capitol Club Event

The UEA Capitol Club (donors to the UEA Political Action Committee) sponsored the “Hot Topics and Hot Dogs” event to provide educators with an overview of the political landscape in Utah and explore how that may impact public education here.

Kirk Jowers, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics and Federal Relations, shared data about voter turnout and some facts about Utah’s unique political process. “Utah is one of two states where the (party) convention alone can determine the candidate,” he said. Most states select their nominees through a primary election where all citizens can vote.

Jowers presented data illustrating a steady decline in Utah voter turnout over the past 30 years. “Utah once had one of the highest voter turnout rates in the nation. We were 49th (among the 50 states) in 2011.” Jowers pointed to Utah’s caucus system as a key reason for the decline. “It’s hard to vote if elections don’t happen or don’t matter,” he said.

“The world in Utah revolves around (party convention) delegates. Delegates constitute less than two-tenths of one percent of Utah’s population,” said Jowers, concluding that “99.8 percent of us are irrelevant. The system disenfranchises large swaths of our population.” He noted that in some cases, “first grade class size is larger than the number who elect our state representatives” in caucuses.

In a discussion of the caucus system, Jowers pointed out a disconnect between convention delegates and the general population, or even the voters within the party—especially on the GOP side. For example:

  • About 55 percent of registered Republican’s are women, but only 25 percent of GOP delegates are women.
  • 50 percent of Republican voters support additional funding for education with 9 percent opposed, while just 24 percent of Republican delegates support education funding with 21 percent opposed.
  • Top issues for Republican voters:


    1. Protecting states’ rights
    2. Creating a business-friendly economy
    3. Increasing the number of high-quality jobs
    4. Improving the quality of K-12 education
    5. Reducing crime
  • Top issues for Republican delegates:
    1. Protecting states’ rights
    2. Creating a business-friendly economy
    3. Protecting gun rights
    4. Allowing mining and grazing on federal lands
    5. Preventing illegal immigration
    • (Improving K-12 education ranked #11 for GOP delegates)

  • Top issues for unaffiliated and Democratic voters:


    1. Improving K-12 education
    2. Improving ethics and oversight of elected officials
    3. Increasing the number of high-quality jobs
    4. Reducing crime
    5. Creating a business-friendly economy

‘Superstars in Education’ Awards Banquet

Top Utah educators and public education supporters were honored during a “Superstars in Education” awards banquet, featuring guest speaker Governor Gary Herbert. UEA leaders and representatives from the Arch Coal Foundation presented the 2011 Arch Coal Foundation Excellence in Teaching Awards to 10 outstanding educators from across the state. Winners each received $1,500 and a specially designed award. UEA Honor Roll and Charles E. Bennett Human and Civil Rights awards were also presented…more

Friday Keynote Address by Cea Cohen Elliott

Day two of the UEA Convention focused on young educators…students in education programs and those in their first three years of teaching. The day’s kickoff event featured advice for these teachers and a dynamic keynote speaker.

In her keynote address, educator Cea Cohen Elliott discussed ways to create peace and resolve conflict in the educational setting. “Life is definitely a bit harder these days, especially for those of us in education. Our students are bombarded with technology, music, media, peer pressure, stress and decisions,” she said. “You must be willing to be there physically, mentally and emotionally.”

Elliot pointed out that budget cuts and increasing demands have many educators thinking this is not what they expected when they entered the profession. “But, the good news is, we can work through this and maintain our sanity, sense of humor and resolve to change the life of a child.”

Occasionally it’s good to step back and remember why education is important to us, noted Elliot. “We need to remember why we care about kids so much…We need to energize ourselves and focus on the positive.”

Elliott concluded with a challenge for educators to “accept kids for the way they are. We have to celebrate differences rather than try to change the way people learn.” Teachers, she said, “have the power to ignite the fire of learning.”

Other Activities

Workshops: UEA members were able to select from 25 professional development workshops on Thursday and 18 on Friday during the 2011 Convention. Topics covered a wide range of interests, with workshops targeting every grade level, various subject areas, and even areas of personal interest.

Exhibit Hall: Exhibitors were featured in more than 200 booths where teachers and other convention attendees gathered valuable classroom materials, education supplies, products and information.

UEA Membership Booth: In the center of the Exhibit Hall, the UEA hosted a membership booth where UEA members could gather information and learn more about their Association. The booth featured representatives from U-PAC, UEA-RetiredAccess Development and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Prizes were offered for those attending the Convention and the UEA Membership Booth. Here are the prize winners:

  • Exhibit Hall Grand Prize* (Bose Wave Radio): Kathie Jorgensen, Jordan
  • Golden Ticket Grand Prize* (7-night vacation stay): Patricia Pizarro, Salt Lake
  • Second Prize (Apple iPad): Heidi Gross, Weber
  • Third Prize (Kindle e-Reader): Bradi Holder, Ogden
  • Fourth Prize ($100 Utah Idaho Gift Certificate): Angela Parker, Granite
  • Fifth Prize ($100 Utah Idaho Gift Certificate): Margaret Pratt, Jordan



*Grand Prizes courtesy of Access Development.

2011 Convention Schedule Archive



Convention Schedule

          New Educators’ Workshop
          Friday, October 21, 2011

          The New Educators’ Workshop presents professional development workshops designed specifically for students in teacher preparation programs and educators in their early years of teaching.


          This workshop is open to UEA members and non-members. Lunch vouchers will be provided to those who pre-register by Friday, October 14, 2011.

          New Educator's Workshop Schedule

          Special Events


          • Registration (Located in the Hall 4 foyer)
            • Thursday, October 20, 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
            • Friday, October 21, 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.

          General Information

          Exhibitor Information


          The UEA thanks the following convention sponsors:

           Access Logo  HM Logo  NEA MB Logo

          Save the Date
          2012 Convention: Thursday and Friday, October 18-19
          South Towne Exposition Center
          9575 S. State Street, Sandy, Utah