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Tri-Conference provides learning experience for McHenry-area educators

Joe Sanfelippo, a school superintendent and educator in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, delivers the keynote address at the Tri-Conference on Aug. 30 at McHenry High School – West Campus.
Joe Sanfelippo, a school superintendent and educator in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, delivers the keynote address at the Tri-Conference on Aug. 30 at McHenry High School – West Campus.

Joe Sanfelippo, a school superintendent and educator in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, told McHenry-area teachers and student support professionals to value what they do, and he encouraged them to find ways to share their stories to ensure others value their work, too.

“The work you do is incredible. But nobody talks about it,” said Sanfelippo, the keynote speaker at the third annual Tri-Conference staff development day, which took place Aug. 30 at McHenry High School – West Campus.

Sanfelippo spoke to more than
650 educators and administrators from McHenry Elementary School District 15, McHenry High School District 156, Harrison School District 36 and Montini Catholic School who gathered for the annual daylong conference.

After an opening address from Sanfelippo, who also has co-authored several books, including “Hacking Leadership: 10 Ways Great Leaders Inspire Learning That Teachers, Students and Parents Love,” participants had their choice from more than 100 training sessions throughout the day.

Some of the topics included social-emotional learning through art, strength and conditioning, culturally responsive teaching, SAT/PSAT math strategies and “gamifying” classrooms. Area educators also were able to learn about offerings at the McHenry Public Library, and many took a trip to McHenry Community College to tour the Liebman Science Center.

The Tri-Conference this year also featured spotlight speaker Holly Clark, a San Diego education strategist who specializes in technology in the classroom.

Some of the presenters included educators from nearby schools, such as Barrington High School and Grayslake Central High School, along with other organizations that offer support to schools, such as Rosecrance.

Maureen Cassidy, director of the bilingual program in District 15, said she looks forward to Tri-Conference every year.

“There are so many different offerings on everything.” she said.

Chris Madson, a McHenry high school social studies teacher who also presented, focused his session on using gaming concepts to give students a different approach to learning. He’s been using gamification methods in his classroom, most recently to teach about the Civil War, that allow students to reach new levels if they answer questions correctly.

“The kids’ engagement and motivation has been through the roof,” Madson said.

Carl Vallianatos, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for District 156, said he invited educators from nearby Wauconda, where there is an interest in starting a similar conference.

“I don’t know any other districts that do this,” Vallianatos said. “It’s a great day.”

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