INSPIRED: Reflections from the Jostens Renaissance National Conference

I’ve attended the Jostens Renaissance National Conference I think 7 times, the first time in 2003. As I stated in a previous post, this is one of the most rejuvenating conferences for educators because of the way they treat the participants, the breakout sessions, and quality of the presenters. This year’s conference had a different feel, which left many of us not only rejuvenated, but inspired. INSPIRED:

“Aroused, animated, or imbued with the spirit to do something, by or as if by supernatural or divine influence.”

The opening day began with a number of dynamic presentations, including a three hour pre-conference session about cyber-bullying and school climate by Dr. Justin Patchin and Dr. Sameer Pincha. After a moving welcome by Charley Nelson, the head of Jostens Educator Services, we were prepped for a surprise concert by the band, Parachute, whose song, Something To Believe In, was the inspiration for the conference theme!

Saturday was filled with over 70 breakout sessions during 6 time slots, and a Stars Wars inspired pep rally that showcased the talented staff of Jostens employees who volunteer their time and talent to participate in the conference. During the rally, all the educators in attendance were recognized by their years of experience. All the first year educators were called to the stage and given a standing ovation for joining the most honored profession, but there is no celebration like the one for the educators who have 30+ years under their belts! There were tears of joy, hugs and geniune appreciation for these dynamic role models!

A personal highlight was Todd Whitaker’s (@ToddWhitaker) session about Shifting the Monkey! As you can imagine, it was standing room only. He educated, entertained, and challenged us to identify the monkey, figure where it should be, and come up with ways to get it there.  His message was applicable to educators and students alike. More about Shifting the Monkey in another post.

Following the sessions was a first class banquet that honored the Jostens Renaissance Coordinators of the Year and 2012 Hall of Fame Inductees. The inductees’ stories were motivating; however, I was especia

lly moved by the two Congressional Medal of Honor recipients who introduced the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Character Development program. They spoke from their hearts as they expressed their love for our nation and their desire for educators and young people to continue to serve others with passion. They shared that out of the 400 Congressional Medal of Honor recipients in our history, only 81 are still alive. Their message was not only a call to action, but they reminded us to continue to believe in the power of the human spirit to serve a greater cause than ourselves. That sums up why educators do what we do!

The closing speaker, Kevin Carroll (@kckatalyst) did not disappoint! He reminded us to BE BOLD and believe in the power of connection: connection for sharing, learning, service and play. Kevin’s message is clear: a ball can and has brought people together from across the globe and we must keep play in our lives.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve thought about what I need to do to be an inspiration to others at Gahanna Lincoln High School and following are the things that came to mind:

  • Write thank you notes to people. Email is nice, but there is something classic and genuine about a hand written note of appreciation.
  • Be present. Presence makes a huge difference. What this means is that whomever I am talking with, they will get my undivided attention. This means I need to actively listen and learn from them.
  • Carve out time daily to visit classrooms to show my appreciation for the dynamic work of some great educators. I sometimes forget how good I feel after I spend time in the classrooms where the action is!
  • Follow through! In other words, be a man of my word. If I say I’m going to do something, then I need to do it. We are all busy, so using “I was busy” as a reason why something didn’t get done is a poor excuse.
  • Make time for me. The first couple of months of the school year, I’m committed to working out. However, as the year progresses, I get to school earlier, leave later, and eliminate my workouts. This has been disastrous for me personally. Kevin Carroll reminded me (again) to keep play in my life.
  • Hold myself and others accountable. This goes without saying.

The Jostens Renaissance Conference was exactly what I needed to prepare myself to give my staff, students, and the GLHS community “Something To Believe In!”  So, what do you believe in?

Be Great,



9 comments for “INSPIRED: Reflections from the Jostens Renaissance National Conference

  1. Tim Gagliardo
    August 3, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Sounds like an awesome event where great ideas are shared. I look forward to attending the event someday. Thanks for sharing. Just reading about it has me inspired.

    • August 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      Thanks Tim! It truly is a great experience and solidifies why we are a Jostens Renaissance school. We’ll work on getting you there soon!

      Be Great,


  2. August 3, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Your enthusiasm came through the words on this post–thanks for sharing the positive event with us and inspiring our best work for the year to come.

    • August 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      Hi Maureen,

      Thanks for your comments! Let’s do GREAT things this year!


  3. Debra Summers
    August 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    You summed up the conference perfectly. As a classroom teacher, the Jostens Renaissance National Conference is the most inspiring professional development that I attend each year – bar none! The positivity about education is infectious. I cannot return to my school fast enough to share what I’ve just learned about motivating students and staffulty (staff and faculty). The students at GLHS are blessed to have such a great administrator who is committed to giving them something to believe in!

    • August 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      Hey Debbie! Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts as well. It truly is infectious, which can only come from everyone who attends the conference. It’s this type of passion, enthusiasm, and energy that creates inspirational classroom and school climates. Give them something to believe in this year!

      Be Great,


  4. Martin Brumit
    August 7, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Thanks Dwight, I was looking at information from the conference yesterday, and after reading your post, it has confirmed that I will do everything in my power to make it to next years conference. I am printing out your inpiration to others points, and will post them on my desk, so that I am reminded daily what I can do to help my school and community this upcoming school year. Have a great year.

    • Dwight Carter
      August 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      You won’t be disappointed! Thanks for taking the time to comment on this post. Let’s make sure we hold each other accountable to the little things we need to do to support our teachers. Give them something to believe in this year!

      Be Great,


  5. August 8, 2012 at 2:02 am

    Your reflections of the National Renaissance Conference are a homerun. No other conference inspires me as much as this one. I look forward to attending each July. I was thrilled to have 9 other administrators from our district attend this year. Next year we are planning to take students once again. Look forward to networking with everyone again. Let’s all stay in touch!

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