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LEMOORE — Most of the time, people want to know how they get from where they’re at to where they want to be, but they never stop to wonder why they’re trying to get there in the first place.

This question of “why?” was the focus of West Hills College Lemoore’s annual Teach Conference for college students, community members and high school students interested in becoming educators.

The free “Teach! 2018: Becoming the Greatest of All-Time (G.O.A.T.) Educator” conference was held Friday on the WHCL campus and featured keynote speakers, informative panels and information sessions with some of the Valley’s top educators and teacher training programs.

“The event is a way to provide information about teaching to our college students, high school students and the community,” said James Preston, WHCL vice president of Educational Services. “We have some innovative and amazing current educators who come to speak to our students on a variety of relevant topics to inform them and prepare them for the teaching profession.”

Shannon Turmon, education instructor at WHCL, said the conference does something different every year, and this year it focused on pathways: from the start of the students’ journeys until their end goals. She also said along with the “how”, the purpose of the conference was to help the students realize the “why” in what they are doing.

“We can all talk about how to become a teacher, but why do they want to become a teacher,” Turmon said. “So we’re breaking that down for them today and really getting their ‘why’ answers for them.”

West Hills College Lemoore’s T.E.A.M. Teach program is the regional lead for the Education Futures project, which has a mission to support and engage community colleges from Bakersfield to Stockton in the development of teacher preparation programs at the community college level.

Several community colleges from the region, including College of the Sequoias, Bakersfield College, Fresno City College and Delta College brought students and staff to the event. In all, around 150 students participated in the conference.

Teach! 2018 included panels, networking opportunities and a chance to speak with representatives from universities with teaching programs. Information was also presented about WHCL’s teacher prep transfer programs and T.E.A.M. Teach teacher preparation program.

T.E.A.M. Teach is a program that was started on the WHCL campus five years ago. Students in the program attend “huddles” once a month, where they get together to learn about new resources and make sure they are staying on the correct path.

By the time the conference was over, Turmon said she wanted the students to be sure they are willing and ready to become teachers or go into the education field.

The state has had a shortage of teachers for several years already and Turmon said teacher retirement is going to increase in the next few years, so positions will need to be filled. She said the conferences are designed to provide students with the resources and tools early on to be successful teachers down the road.

“We really need good teachers to go out and shape these kids,” Turmon said. “Our hope is that we motivate them to be that epic teacher in the classroom.”

Ashley Chavez, a first-year student at WHCL in the education pathway, said events like the Teach! 2018 conference are great because she can meet people from other schools or learn about job opportunities.

Chavez’s plan is to transfer to a four-year university to get her bachelor’s degree and her teaching credential before going for her master’s degree. She said her goal is to become a fourth-grade elementary school teacher, particularly in Kings County because she said there is a lot of need here.

Chavez said T.E.A.M. Teach is a great resource for students to have on campus and has helped and prepared her along the way in her educational pursuits.

“It’s a really good program,” Chavez said. “I would recommend it for high schoolers or even college students trying to get into the teaching pathways.”

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