Local News

7/15/2013

Educators return to Jekyll

By SARAH LUNDGREN The Brunswick News

Since the 1970s, Georgia's top educators and administrators have made a summer trip to Jekyll Island, but it's been much more than just fun in the sun.

The Georgia Association of Educational Leaders, better known as GAEL, views the annual conference as an opportunity for the state to come together to talk about education.

This year's conference at the Jekyll Island Convention Center began Sunday and will end Wednesday.

Ricky Rentz, current assistant superintendent for student achievement with the Glynn County School System, has attended the conference since the early 1980s. It's helped him keep up with education changes and trends across the state, he said.

"The biggest thing is getting to see my peers and sharing, getting ideas from them," he said. "We hear about the upcoming trends. We get to hear things that might be upcoming legal issues, listening to legislation and how it can impact education.

"Anything coming out of the Department of Education for the year we get an update on."

Participants include elementary, middle and high school principals, district administrators, superintendents and directors, as well as well-known names like state Superintendent John Barge and Gov. Nathan Deal.

The conference will include breakout groups and conference speakers.

Special interest sessions are geared towards introducing new topics, like new evaluation systems and tests.

Rentz is looking forward to hearing many of the conference speakers, like renowned state lawyer Phil Hartley, who will address requirements for the upcoming year. Also on the list of speakers are snyndicated columnist Dick Yarbrough, former Fulbright Award recipient Franklin Shumake and Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the state's public health commissioner.

New to the conference this year will be a professional learning day that will offer various topics.

"It's a time for us all to share and see what our peers are doing, because it's not just the Glynn County way. We need to know how are people are implementing programs and what they're doing to be successful," Rentz said.

There are family-oriented activities throughout the week, from cookouts to fireworks.

"To me, one of the things I've always liked is the camaraderie, the people you meet, the relationships you build with people throughout the state. It's a good way to network," Rentz said.

"It rejuvenates us when you hear what others are doing and puts us on the cutting edge."

With curriculum changes in recent years like the Common Core Standards and more expected in the near future, Rentz says working alongside colleagues from other school systems and listening to their ideas lets him know the Glynn County School System is heading in the right direction.

SBlt Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at slundgren@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.