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The Value of AACTE’s Annual Meeting: A Testimonial

AACTE is pleased to share excerpts from a testimonial by one of the 2019 Annual Meeting attendees, Tracy Spesia of the University of Saint Francis in Joliet, IL. In a letter to AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone, Spesia shared how the AACTE Annual Meeting has consistently influenced and brought value to her work as the edTPA coordinator at her institution:

“It was a professional and personal pleasure to attend the 71st AACTE Annual Meeting in Louisville. This annual conference’s tremendous impact on me, and the ripple impact it has had on my college and community, is clear.  I actually have the documentation to prove it! 

In 2010, I accepted the full-time position of Field Experience Coordinator (and Partnership Liaison) at the University of St. Francis. In 2012, my dean asked me to assume the edTPA coordinator position. The toolbox needed some new tools. By a stroke of luck, the AACTE annual conference was in nearby Chicago in spring 2013, and the dean suggested I attend to learn more about edTPA.  I had never heard of AACTE. I had no idea what edTPA was about. I had never really attended a professional conference.  This opportunity marks such a turning point in my career.

Thanks to the AACTE annual conferences, I have developed pivotal professional relationships, heard powerful speakers, read provocative journal articles and books, mined online resources, and followed education leaders on social media. 

The professional development provided by AACTE has either directly resulted in, or started me down the path toward, a host of professional opportunities: edTPA National Academy Consultant,  Illinois State Board of Education Diverse and Learner Ready Teacher Network committee member, International Institute of Restorative Practices trainer of basic restorative practices, a doctoral program completer (dissertation title: A Qualitative Study of African American and Latino Parents Regarding Their Children’s Educators; Experiences and Expectations), and a proud two-time AACTE conference presenter (in 2018, It Takes a Village; Multicultural Education Recruitment in Teaching and in 2019,  Educators of Color Mentoring Experience; Creating a Network of Support).

Certainly the opportunities and support provided by the College of Education at the University of St. Francis made all of the above possible. However, AACTE’s willingness to share resources with non-members via the annual conference gave me access to extensive professional development and, ultimately, accelerated my ability to make a positive impact on my college and local community.

The stroke of luck that landed the AACTE conference in Chicago in 2013 compares to winning a contest and receiving free registration to the 2020 annual conference in Atlanta. With special thanks to my dean for allowing me to attend the AACTE conferences, I am delighted to be able to save our small college the registration fee for next year. Thank you for your generosity in that regard.  I promise to be a good steward of the opportunity.”

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Tracy Spesia

Field Experience Coordinator, College of Education, University of Saint Francis, Joliet, IL