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Double Header Kicks Off Partners in Practice Conference

Silken Laumann and The Honourable Gerard Kennedy Address Educators

"We're here at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday because we want to be great at what we do," began four-time Olympian and Olympic medallist Silken Laumann as she addressed an audience of hundreds at the second annual Partners in Practice Conference held at Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School. "We want to find the truly great music inside ourselves and inside every child."

For close to an hour, the famous Canadian rower shared her own personal triumphs and disappointments, inspiring educators and teacher candidates alike who came out on a weekend to be infused with new energy and ideas about education. When she spoke of some of the adversities she has faced in life -- like repeating grade three or facing a devastating injury just 10 weeks before her first Olympics -- Ms. Laumann encouraged her audience to think about "choice and how we respond to challenges."

There was an audible gasp throughout the crowd when Ms. Laumann pulled out the bronze medal she won by making the decision to participate in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. "Flying on water" is how she described the feeling of tapping into her inner strength to beat the American rower who challenged her for third place -- and she suggested that teachers should live for those moments where influencing the life of a child is just like flying on water. It was clearly an inspirational moment for the audience, as they passed the bronze medal from person to person and took in the motivational message.

Following Ms. Laumann's address, Minister of Education Gerard Kennedy took the stage with the welcome message that "there has never been a time where education has been more important." After outlining the provincial government's commitment to education and its response to the Rozanski Rerport, he fielded a number of questions ranging from special needs students and volunteer hours to French immersion and class sizes. Both speakers received warm applause and a standing ovation before delegates moved on to a day full of sessions and workshops.

Trent University President Bonnie Patterson and Dr. Deborah Berrill, Director of Trent University's School of Education, also addressed the crowd, the majority of whom had some connection to Trent in their educational backgrounds. Teacher Candidates from the University's full- and part-time teacher education program, now in its second year, were in attendance. The conference provides an exceptional opportunity for students of the program to meet teachers and administrators from the various school boards.

Hosted by the Kawartha Pineridge District School Board (KPR), the Partners in Practice Conference is a partnership between KPR, Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board, Trillium Lakelands District School Board and Trent University's School of Education.

Posted September 22, 2004

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Last Updated October 8, 2004