14th Annual OACHE/AHE Conference Draws Multi-State Attendance

More than 220 attendees from Ohio, West Virginia and several other Appalachian states attended the 14th Annual OACHE/AHE Conference on October 3-5, 2007 to share strategies for encouraging more students and adults to participate in college. This annual event, which draws K-12 and college educators, elected officials and government representatives at all levels, was co-hosted by Belmont Technical College and Ohio University Eastern Campus near St. Clairsville, Ohio.

The conference is co-sponsored by the Ohio Appalachian Center for Higher Education (OACHE) and the Appalachian Higher Education Network (AHE), a group of centers in seven other Appalachian states that are replicating the OACHE’s nationally recognized college-access program with support from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Featured speakers at this year’s conference included Jeff Biggers, award-winning author of The United States of Appalachia; Dr. Brian Noland, Chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission; and renowned American demographer Dr. Harold “Bud” Hodgkinson, director of the Center for Demographic Policy at the Institute for Educational Leadership. The agenda also included more than 20 breakout sessions on a wide variety of topics including best practices in college-access programs, P-16 initiatives, college retention, 21st-century technology tools, engaging parents and families for student success, and increasing students’ financial literacy.

“The Thread That Runs So True,” a pre-conference workshop on enriching the curriculum with Appalachian literature, brought educators, curriculum experts and experienced administrators together to explore the numerous advantages of using Appalachian literature in the classroom. Co-hosted by the Jesse Stuart Foundation, this workshop was made possible by a grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, which also enabled the conference to provide a copy of Jesse Stuart’s educational classic, The Thread That Runs So True. Supplementing the pre-conference workshop and the conference, an onsite bookstore enabled attendees to browse and purchase regional literature and curriculum materials.

During the closing plenary luncheon, the OACHE presented its 2007 Wayne F. White Outstanding Educator of the Year Awards to K-12 school personnel who have made an extra effort to encourage and assist students to go to college. Two teachers tied for WFW Outstanding Teacher of the Year: Ms. Jeannie Johnson, an English teacher at Miller High School in Perry County, and Ms. Judy Ellsesser-Painter, an English teacher at South Webster High School. Jim Arcuragi, from East Liverpool Schools, was named the WFW Outstanding Counselor of the Year.

Other conference highlights included a casual reception on Thursday evening; displays by K-12 schools and vendors; and a silent auction to benefit the Wayne F. White Scholarship Fund administered by the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio to assist high-school graduates from the 29 counties of Appalachian Ohio.

"We are overwhelmed by the positive response to this year’s conference,” said Dr. Brenda S. Haas, OACHE executive director. “When you bring dedicated, talented educators together to share ideas and successful strategies for helping students realize their potential, it’s truly inspiring to see what they can do."

Last edited on 12.10.2007 at 9:40 a.m. by Laura Risler