Inaugural Fayetteville Grow Your Own Educators Convening to Address Teacher Shortages

From left, Conra D. Gist, Amaya Garcia, Karli Saracini and Socorro Herrera will speak at the Grow Your Own Educators Convening Feb. 5.
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From left, Conra D. Gist, Amaya Garcia, Karli Saracini and Socorro Herrera will speak at the Grow Your Own Educators Convening Feb. 5.

The College of Education and Health Professions Department of Curriculum and Instruction will host a free symposium to create innovative pathways that address teacher shortages called the Grow Your Own (GYO) Educators Convening.

The symposium, titled "Rooting Our Future Within Our Community," will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 5, at the Fayetteville Hilton Garden Inn.

Though the symposium is free to attend, registration is required and will be limited to 100 participants. The deadline to register is Thursday, Feb. 1.

"There are numerous types of GYO programs that provide innovative pathways for individuals living in the community who have the desire to become teachers. If given the opportunity, these community teachers can assist in addressing critical need areas and alleviating teacher shortages," said Diana Gonzales Worthen, director of Project ELEVATE, a federal grant program in the College of Education and Health Professions.

Administrators, faculty, academic advisors, mentors, teachers and community partners are all encouraged to attend the interactive symposium. This inaugural GYO will address the critical role of community teachers, the current state of GYO programs across the country and in Arkansas, voices speaking on GYO teachers' personal and professional impact on their communities, and action steps to begin growing community educators.

The GYO symposium will feature keynote speakers Conra D. Gist, an associate professor at the University of Houston, Amaya Garcia, director of PreK-12 Research and Practice with the Education Policy program at New America, and Karli Saracini, assistant commissioner of the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

Socorro Herrera, renowned author and director of the Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy at Kansas State University, will host a panel with program graduates who wish to share their personal and professional experiences.

"The event concludes with a GYO action plan roundtable for participants to begin writing a framework to start their own GYO educator program in their community," Worthen said. "It's going to be a full and exciting day!" 

Upon completing a survey, teachers who attend the symposium will receive a certificate for six hours of professional development and an ADE assurance number.

The event is sponsored by the College of Education and Health Professions, the Walton Family Foundation and Projects REACH and ELEVATE. 

For more information on the Grow Your Own Educators Convening, contact Diana Gonzales Worthen at or Sandra Bowman at


Sean Rhomberg, assistant director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions


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