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Clarke Education Conference Features Rafe Esquith

By Clarke News  |  June 17, 2013

The Clarke University Education Department will host a conference for educators from 8 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, in the Robert and Ruth Kehl Center on the Clarke campus. The event, themed “Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire,” will feature world renowned educator,  Rafe Esquith, along with a variety of keynote speakers and professional development topics for educators. A once-in-a-lifetime educator, Rafe Esquith may be the most inspiring school teacher in America. He’s been called “a modern day Thoreau” by Newsday, “a genius and a saint” by The New York Times, and “the most interesting and influential classroom teacher in the country” by The Washington Post. For the past two decades, Esquith has taught fifth-graders at a public school in a Los Angeles neighborhood plagued by guns, gangs and violence. His exceptional classroom at Hobart Elementary — known simply as Room 56 — is unlike any other in the country. Esquith’s students are mostly immigrants or children of immigrants, living in poverty, and learning English as a second language. Yet, under his tutelage, they voluntarily come to class at 6:30 in the morning, and often stay until five in the afternoon. They learn math, reading and science. But they also play Vivaldi, perform Shakespeare, often score in the top 1 percent on standardized tests, and go on to attend the best universities. For his near-heroic work, Esquith is the only teacher to be awarded the president’s National Medal of the Arts. He has received the National Teacher of the Year Award, and won accolades from Oprah, the Queen and the Dalai Lama. He’s also written three books: Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire, There Are No Shortcuts, and Lighting Their Fires. His fourth book, Real Talk for Real Teachers will be published in 2013. Esquith has also been featured, along with his students, in the PBS documentary The Hobart Shakespeareans. The conference offers a professional development opportunity for educators at all levels and will focus on new trends in education and best practices across the curriculum, including education of all learners, literacy and technology. In addition to the keynote presentations, attendees will choose from among 25 sessions presented by the tri-state area’s best educators, including teachers from Dubuque Community Schools, Holy Family Catholic Schools and Galena Public Schools. Vendors and area agencies such as Two By Two, Multicultural Family Center, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Teacher Resources, Society of Women Educators and River Lights Books will also be on hand to share information and resources. Cost is $80 for professional educators and $30 for education students, which includes continental breakfast, lunch and all conference materials. To RSVP or for more information, visit or contact Michele Vosberg, associate professor of education, at or (563)588-6631.Media requesting more information can contact the Clarke University Marketing and Communication Office at (563)588-6318.