I can breathe a sigh of relief.   After three years of planning PCTELA 2016 is history.  Although at times I was pulling my hair out, I am glad  that I had the opportunity to chair a state wide conference.  It truly was an experience.

Anyway, the conference was held on October 14th and 15th at the Penn Stater Conference Center in State College PA.  Margo Williamson, our event planner could not have been more accommodating.  Whatever our needs she made them happen.

When my then co-chair, Tony, and I first began this adventure and came up with our vision and mission for the conference I wasn’t sure how we would find featured speakers to fit with what we had in mind.  Our goad was to shoe that everyone has a story to tell whether they are still in school or not.

I lucked out .  Not long after we picked our title our local paper ran an article about a woman who runs a writing program in a Vermont women’s correctional institution.  Bingo.  This was exactly the type of speaker I was looking for.  I contacted her and she agreed to speak.  One speaker down and three to go.

Again, being lucky, I read another article about a professor our west who encourages students in the medical field to write with their patients as a way of getting patients to open up about their fears and concerns.  After contacting him I had our second speaker.

For our third speaker Tony suggested someone who was one of the original freedom writers.  He contacted her and soon we had three of our four speakers.

Although each of these speakers addressed the theme of our conference, I wanted our final speaker to e someone whose name people would recognize.  So a search began for someone recognizable, available, and affordable.  I found her.

With the speakers in place it was just a matter of lining up presenters for concurrent sessions and taking care of logistics.  I had a great team of people helping me and PCTELA 2016 was a success.

It is always great seeing old friends at conferences and making new ones.  Rose Cappelli and Lynne Dorfman were guests at out author’s breakfast.  Always a pleasure seeing them.Although I no longer teach it is always interesting talking with our vendors to see what is new and exciting.

Here now are some pictures from PCTELA 2016.

First, all is quiet before people start coming in.


People enter and the place fills up.

Our first speaker works with incarcerated women.  Sarah Bartlett demonstrated that everyone has a story to tell is someone would only ask them.


After breakout sessions and lunch our second speaker, Marcia Nelson one of the original Freedom Writers showed us how much students have to give if we just believe in them.

At dinner Friday night we honored one of our own.  Our outgoing president, Jennie K. Brown, just  had her first book published – Poppy Mayberry, The Monday.  To celebrate there had to be cake.


Saturday’s session began with Christopher Bolin, a poet and college professor who has his students write with patients.  Chris spoke about he he uses the writing workshop in his college classes.


After more breakout sessions and lunch it was time for our last speaker, Sharon M. Draper. What an exciting way to end the conference.


Yes, I am glad the conference is over.  Yes, I am glad I had the experience of organizing it.  Yes, I am glad it is someone else’s responsibility next year.


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14 responses to “PCTELA 2016

  1. Wow! Powerful writers! I’ve been introducing Sharon Draper’s mysteries to younger elementary students. So nice to have such collections available!

    Congratulations on a job well done!!!

  2. So cool! I hope to work my way up to doing something like this.

  3. Judy C.

    Congratulations on a successful event. It’s always a challenge to organize and find the right speakers. I can feel your relief, but also your sense of accomplishment.

  4. I have been on a state wide conference team and know how much work it is. You came up with some great presenters. Well done! I hope you have a way to celebrate.

  5. lindabaie

    Congratulations! I have loved attending out state conference, and know it is a lot of work. You should be pleased, but I know that you are celebrating the success and the end, too. My father used to visit state prisons and teach the Carnegie Course to prisoners. He was such a kind person and I know his “students” learned from him, and he appreciated their stories. Your theme was wonderful!

  6. I know exactly how you feel, Bob! Looking back on the 2015 KSRA Conference that I planned gives me such a feeling of accomplishment, but I am glad it is over. Job well done! Congratulations!

  7. Well done, Bob! All that work…but think about the wonderful impact of the events on the educators there. Bravo!

  8. Great job, Bob! Such an accomplishment indeed. You definitely had a great variety of speakers. I wish I could have attended.

  9. I don’t know any of the speakers you had – but I had to go to PCTELA 2016 to see who they were and read their bios. I loved reading this post and I am so delighted about the work you’re doing! Go Arjeha! (This is a very DIFFERENT Arjeha post than I am accustomed to. Loved it as much as your other work.)

  10. Congrats…and now I hope you’ll treat yourself to three years of no big obligations!

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