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Educators are Essential FREE Conference


Contact: Katie Fenstermacher (662) 328-4491

Director, Cathryn Borer speaks to teachers at CMSD in 2022

COLUMBUS, Miss. - The Columbus Lowndes Chamber of Commerce is hosting its annual "Educators are Essential" event again this year in the form of a FREE education conference for local educators across the county. For the last eight years, the CLCC Education Committee and Chamber members have visited each individual school or district to present a “back to school” and “support our teachers” pep rally with giveaways. This year, due to the differing academic calendars, the CLCC Education Committee will host a free conference titled, "What the Textbooks Didn't Teach You" on Saturday, September 9th at Hogarth on the campus of The W from 9:00 – 2:00.

Through the efforts of the Chamber, the Education Committee partnered with local businesses to bring a variety of speakers, educational resources, life-saving training, swag and prizes to local educators throughout the day. This year, the Chamber's sponsors gave $5,000 in monetary sponsorships, and over $20,000 in in-kind donations towards the event. 

Thank you to our sponsors: 4-County Electric Power, Airbus, BankFirst, Baptist Memorial Hospital, Chick-fil-A, Citizen's National Bank, Financial Concepts, Friendly City Books, International Paper, Dr. Josie Shumake, Michelli Weighing & Measurement, The First Bank and The W.

The conference will consist of a variety of speakers focusing on topics that will help educators of all levels from pre-kindergarten to high school. Speakers include:

Keynote Speaker sponsored by The W: Dr. Stephanie Duguid with Do Good Leadership presenting "What do I do with this pencil?" which is about keeping classrooms in tune with the children and young adults we are teaching in a post-covid modern world. It covers how the learner has changed and how we are responsible for changing with the learner, not having the learner change to us. More information about Dr. Duguid can be found here: The Chamber Education Committee is grateful to The W Center for Education Support for facilitating Dr. Duguid as our keynote speaker.

Sheriff Eddie Hawkins will be speaking on school safety from a law enforcement perspective.

Dr. Brad Beckham will introduce attendees to the STOP THE BLEED Program which they will then have the opportunity to receive training from Baptist Memorial Hospital – Golden Triangle. In a STOP THE BLEED® course, attendees will learn three quick techniques to help save a life before someone bleeds out: (1) How to use your hands to apply pressure to a wound; (2) How to pack a wound to control bleeding; (3) How to correctly apply a tourniquet. These three techniques will empower the trainee to assist in an emergency and potentially save a life. Training | Stop the Bleed BMH-GT will be providing STOP THE BLEED kits to every attendee which is a $110 value per kit. The kit includes a tourniquet and other supplies needed to carry out the training properly.

The W’s Rich Sobolewski and Dr. Kristi DiClemente are offering professional development on Artificial Intelligence in the classroom.

W alum and author Leta Palmiter, the executive director and founder of Illuminations Center for Dyslexia, will offer training on dyslexia in classrooms.   

In addition to the main speakers, the conference will offer "brain breaks" for teachers presented by Bliss Yoga, The Rowdy Foundation, MSE Mental and Behavioral Health and Elizabeth Casano, Certified Enneagram Coach.

Attendees will receive a complimentary breakfast sponsored by Chick-fil-A and lunch will be provided by The W Center for Education Support. They will also receive a swag bag including more giveaways, coupons, and best of all, a discount card for educators to use at Chamber Member businesses! In addition to the swag bags, teachers will have the opportunity to visit the on-site resource fair consisting of local business vendors offering valuable resources and information.

Thank you to these businesses for offering discounts and door prizes to our teachers in order to show support: The Paint Store, Lost Pizza Company, Coffee House on 5th, United Deli, Lighting Unlimited, Friendly City Books, Military Hardware, Wine’s Etc., Allegro MedSpa, Eat with Us Group, The Glow Bar MedSpa, Blessed Beds, Lion Hills Center, The American Legion, JTS & Co., Applebee's, The Glam Station, Southern Lux, Baked by Broussard's, Starbucks and The Mill among others. 

“Our goal is to show the educators of Lowndes County that the business community supports and values them” said Cathryn Borer, Director of the Columbus Lowndes Chamber of Commerce. “Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce and the business community wants the educators of those students to feel appreciated.”

The W Center for Education Support will be offering CEUs ($20) with all-day attendance.

Friendly City Books is providing a donation of over 500 books for participating educators through its new program the Friendly City Books Community Connection, a special project of the CREATE Foundation. During the conference, educators will select three books to take home completely FREE!

Educators must register to attend the event in advance via link here: Educators are Essential CONFERENCE 2023 (

For more information, or to offer support, contact Katie Fenstermacher, Director of Programs and Events at the Columbus Lowndes Chamber of Commerce.