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Tri-Conference provides learning experience for McHenry-area educators

Wisconsin school superintendent and educator Joe Sanfelippo told McHenry-area teachers and student services professionals to value what they do, and he encouraged them to find ways to share their stories to make sure others value their work, too.

“The work you do is incredible. But nobody talks about it,” said Sanfelippo, the keynote speaker in the third annual Tri-Conference staff development day Aug. 30 at McHenry High School - West Campus.

Sanfelippo, school superintendent in Fall Creek, Wisc., spoke to more than 650 educators and administrators from McHenry Elementary District 15, McHenry Community High School District 156, Harrison School District 36 and Montini Catholic School in McHenry who gathered for the annual daylong conference.

After an opening address from Sanfelippo, who has also co-authored several books, including “Hacking Leadership: 10 Ways Great Leaders Inspire Learning That Teachers, Students and Parents Love,” participants had their choice from more than 100 training sessions throughout the day.

Some of the topics included social emotional learning through art, strength and conditioning, culturally responsive teaching, SAT/PSAT math strategies, and “gamifying” classrooms. Area educators could also learn about offerings at McHenry Public Library, and many took a trip to McHenry Community College to tour the Liebman Science Center.

Also this year, the Tri-Conference featured spotlight speaker Holly Clark, a San Diego education strategist who specializes in technology in the classroom. 

Some of the presenters included educators from nearby schools, such as Barrington High School and Grayslake Central High School, along with other organizations that offer support to schools, such as Rosecrance.

Maureen Cassidy, director of the bilingual program for District 15, said she looks forward to Tri-Conference every year. “There are so many different offerings on everything.” she said.

Chris Madson, McHenry High School social studies teacher and a presenter, focused his session on using gaming concepts to give students a different approach to learning. He’s been using gamification methods in his classroom, most recently to teach about the Civil War, that allow students to reach new levels if they answer questions correctly. 

“The kids’ engagement and motivation has been through the roof,” Madson said.

Carl Vallianatos, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for District 156, said he invited educators from nearby Wauconda where there is an interest in starting a similar conference. 

“I don’t know any other districts that do this,” Vallianatos said. “It’s a great day.”

MCHS Tri-Conference