It is incredible that only a year has passed since I first walked onto the campus of the PDS in Memphis for the Martin Institute Summer Conference during the summer of 2012. Having no sense of what to expect, I walked into one of the most diverse and welcoming conference that I have ever attended, and I am incredibly excited to be back for year two. Phillip Cummings, teacher at PDS and friend, talked with me at edcampBHAM about the possibly of coming to Memphis and presenting my work for #micon12. This was our first face-to-face visit (lots of Twitter conversations), and he was welcoming me to his town and into his home for a summer conference. This is Southern hospitality, but it is also the ethic of the conference.
It is a chance for real people to have real conversations, and build real allies for the work that we do for kids. During that conference, I met Bo Adams and Jill Gough, more passionate educators, working to doing learning the right way. The momentum built, and over the last year, I have had Grant Lichtman visit my school, Pam Moran chatting with me about my family on Instagram, and I've sharing conversation with Will Richardson about his Raising Modern Learners initiative. It was just a year ago that I shook the hand of the gentle giant that is John Hunter, and had great conversations with Cliff Mims, Laura Dearman, and Paul Wood. Beginning tomorrow evening, I get to experience the true energy of education with new friends and many current allies, and I couldn't be more excited. The best little big conference in Mid-South is set to begin again.
Life for me has been quite bumpy this year, but it feels centering to be back in the center of the education universe and in a place where folks are dedicated to doing education the right way. The Martin Institute seems ready to grow deeper roots in Memphis as it reaches out to new places in the future. If the hopeful, inclusion nature of learning that comes each year from this conference can grow and scale, then by all means, let it out of the box. There is a loose set of connections ready to support the ecosystem of inquiry in education that lives here. It is incredible to think that so much can happen in 365 days. We can do so much for kids in just one year. We have to believe that it is possible, and we have to allow the positive energy of education in infect us through great learning spaces that are made possible by the vision of the Martins, and the hard work of the Martin Institute.