Educators learn, spend time in Natchez

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 4, 2009

NATCHEZ — Wednesday marked the end of first Southwest Mississippi Educator’s Summer Conference and a departure from usual statewide conference.

Due to budget cuts at the state level, the conference, which is normally a statewide event on the Gulf Coast, was canceled.

But seeing a need for continued professional development, enterprising school administrators made their own conference.

Email newsletter signup

On Monday, educators and superintendents from the Amite, Claiborne, Jefferson, Natchez-Adams, Wilkinson and East Jasper school districts gathered at the Natchez Convention Center for three days of training and teacher recertification.

Natchez-Adams District Superintendent Anthony Morris said the idea for a regional conference first came up last year in talking with a fellow district administrator — the announcement to cancel the statewide conference solidified the plan.

Morris said over the course of the conference, he received only positive feedback from the participants.

“We wanted to provide quality professional development, and that’s what we did,” Morris said. “The professional development here was as good, if not better, than what (educators) can get at the state conference. We’re very pleased.”

Morris said the event was such a success there have been talks of making the conference a regular event.

“It was a first-class conference and it was right here in Natchez,” he said.

And the benefit of the new event was felt by more than just regional educators.

Convention Center Director Walter Tipton said the event was booked only three months ago, and since it was not originally budgeted, it bolstered the convention center’s budget.

“It wasn’t in our original budget and it brought a lot of extra people in town to kick off the summer. It’s a big boost,” Tipton said.

Tipton estimated the three-day conference brought as many as 400 people into the city.

And all those extra people translate into money spent in the city, Tipton said.

Tipton said when estimating gas, dining, hotel stays and shopping, the event likely had a $240,000 impact on the city.

“They’re here and they’re spending and that’s great for us, that’s what we need,” Tipton said.