A nationally-renowned slam poet will headline an educators’ conference held from 8:45 a.m.-noon Oct. 15 coordinated by the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith’s Educational Renewal Zone.
Taylor Mali, a four-time National Poetry Slam Champion and author of four books including “What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World,” will speak to educators during the conference, which is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Van Buren School District Fine Arts Center, located at 2001 Pointer Trail.
Mali, a former teacher, will give an hour-and-a-half talk during the conference on the challenges and rewards of teaching. The poet taught for nine years before pursuing a career in slam poetry, public speaking and advocacy for the education profession. In 2000, he started an initiative to motivate 1,000 people to become teachers, a goal he met in 2012.
Kimberly Friedman, director of public relations for the Arkansas Department of Education, will also speak during the conference.
This year’s conference theme is “Advocacy and Empowerment for Educators and the Profession,” and Jennifer Jennings Davis, ERZ director, said it was a fitting theme for Mali’s presentation.
“Teaching is a rewarding but challenging job, and Taylor Mali is an acclaimed performer and speaker who realizes and promotes the good, hard work teachers do,” Jennings Davis said. “He praises the job and the profession, but he’s also honest about the challenges teachers are facing. This will be an uplifting and edifying talk that teachers, students and the community will all enjoy.”
Following his presentation, Mali will host a book signing, in addition to an invitation-only writer’s workshop for teachers and students aspiring to become writers.
Free parking is available, and shuttle buses will run from Malco Cinema and the Heritage Methodist Church in Van Buren both before and after the event. The conference is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Tickets can be picked up at the UAFS Box Office in the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center, 479-788-7300.
For more information about the conference, contact Jennings Davis at 479-788-7256 or Jennifer.JenningsDavis@uafs.edu.