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It was an opportunity to learn, grow, collaborate, and form relationships. It was the second annual multi-day Middle School Educator Leadership Conference (ELC), which bought together Gibbons educators and educators from several of the Diocese of Raleigh's Catholic middle schools.

"The experience was extremely fruitful in the discussion, energy, and ideas generated,” Gabi Burn ’08, Science Educator and Director of Leadership Formation at Gibbons, said of this year's Middle School Educator Leadership Conference.

At the conference, attendees developed skills to help them further their roles as leaders and educators, to identify and support those skills in the students, colleagues, and parents at their schools. The two-day conference, modeled after the annual Gibbons Leadership Conference, was held August 25-26, at the St. Francis Springs Retreat Center in Stoneville.

The ELC theme for this year was ‘Understanding and Leading Generations Y & Z’, and the experience was extremely fruitful in the discussion, energy, and ideas generated,” said Gabi Burn ’08, Science Educator and Director of Leadership Formation at Gibbons. Part of the discussion, she added, also centered on the Gibbons leadership model and understanding how it fits with the new kind of leader needed by younger generations. 

Gabi, together with Principal Jason Curtis, led the conference. The hope, she said, is that attendees came away from the conference able to:

Look at the opportunities they offer at their school in a different way: That it is not just about putting on events but about shaping events that guide the school in a specific direction that is aligned with the mission and vision of their schools.
Learn different strategies that will help them better identify leaders and get the most out of the God-given gifts and talents that their students and fellow educator leaders can offer.
See the support network they have in our Diocese, and the new relationships they formed with other Diocesan educators.

Take their visions generated at the conference and start shaping the leadership culture at their schools. 


Educators said they found the conference enjoyable and enlightening. Among them was Tom Harmon, who teaches math to sixth and seventh graders at The Franciscan School in Raleigh.  “I learned the interdependency of the school’s mission, translating it to a vision and then the leadership processes to establish goals,” said Tom. “The results cause a change in the school’s culture towards the vision.”

Judith Castillo-Arzeno, who is the Spanish, Reading Resource, and Middle School Leadership Coordinator at St. Catherine of Siena in Wake Forest, added: “I learned that the journey my school community is about to embark on is going to be a long, yet fruitful one. I believe that the tools the team at Gibbons have provided us with will help us create the path to travel on this journey.”

Both educators said they intend to bring back what they learned at the conference to their schools.  “My intention is to use the information in developing a Curriculum Assistance Class at The Franciscan School,” said Tom.

Judith said implementation of what she learned will occur in small steps. She explained: “One of the strongest and most encouraging lessons we received was patience. These changes take time. I do believe that at the core of our school there is amazing heart of service. This characteristic puts us in a unique position to be able to implement these strategies in a more organic matter and bring forward young leaders who will lead not only our school, but our parish community.”

And what of future conferences this school year? There is a second conference planned for February 9 and 10, Gabi said, adding that more information will be distributed later this semester.