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The Space Between the Logs

EVAC 2017 @ Colegio Internacional Puerto La Cruz (CIPLC) By: Steve Mancuso, Ed.D., Superintendent Carrie Ward, 2nd Grade Teacher and EVAC 2017 Organizing Committee member

David Chojnacki, a friend and former Executive Director of NESA, used to talk a lot about the “space between the logs” being essential for a successful educators’ conference. In her poem Fire (see below), Judy Brown reminds us that “building fires requires attention to the spaces in between, as much as to the wood.”

At CIPLC we have a strong commitment to professional development. Each year, the schools of the Eastern Venezuela Activities Conference (EVAC) pool our talents and offer the annual EVAC Educators’ Conference, which alternates yearly between International School of Monagas in Maturin, and Colegio Internacional Puerto La Cruz (CIPLC) in Barcelona. This two-day conference draws on the expertise and passions of the EVAC educators to present new and interesting ideas to colleagues that inspire us to improve our craft. Also featured is a guest keynoter who brings their own perspective to the conference.

With the political situation in our region, and the ongoing rhetoric with our neighbors to the north, it is getting progressively more difficult to continue our strong commitment to professional development as we search for consultants and experts to work with our teachers. This year we were fortunate to have a local child and adolescent psychologist, Maria de los Angeles Rondon, who works with many of our school families, bring her perspective to the EVAC Conference. Her work with the children and families in our community offer her a unique perspective on the distinctive stresses that our families are facing in these challenging political and economic times.

Conscious of the need for “space between the logs” the organizing committee built in a lot of time for sharing, socializing, and job-alike sessions to give our delegates the chance to kindle personal and professional friendships. Two of the more popular sessions discussed the need for more outdoor play/learning and ways to include team building activities into your lessons. There truly were sessions for everyone on a wide variety of topics, including P.E., study skills, using Book Creator, various Google apps, and more. Our Spanish teachers also presented how they are using the Writer’s Workshop model in Spanish to support the literacy instruction delivered by their elementary colleagues. Even after the conference ended, many of the participants took advantage of our spectacular beachfront location to spend time on some of the most beautiful beaches of the Caribbean.

The positive feedback we have received from participants indicated that this was a successful conference. The quality of presentations, along with the keynote speaker, helped make this an EVAC to remember. Hopefully, the fire won’t go out and we can continue to keep it burning all year long until the next EVAC conference!

Finally, CIPLC is grateful to AASSA for their support of the annual EVAC Educators’ Conference, and the opportunities it offered our delegates.

FIRE ~ Judy Brown

What makes a fire burn is space between the logs, a breathing space. Too much of a good thing, too many logs packed in too tight can douse the flames almost as surely as a pail of water would. So building fires requires attention to the spaces in between, as much as to the wood. When we are able to build open spaces in the same way we have learned to pile on the logs, then we can come to see how it is fuel, and absence of the fuel together, that make fire possible. We only need to lay a log lightly from time to time. A fire grows simply because the space is there, with openings in which the flame that knows just how it wants to burn can find its way.

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