The 2018 NAD Teachers Convention took place August 5-9 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, offering Adventist teachers and educators from across the North American Division the opportunity to come together for inspiration, instruction, networking, and professional development. The expected attendance of nearly 6,000 included more than 950 teachers and administrators from the Pacific Union.

The theme for the 2018 event was “Encounter Jesus, Experience Excellence” and featured a rich and diverse mix of general sessions, worship experiences, concerts, workshops, networking opportunities, and exhibits.

Dr. Berit von Pohle, Pacific Union Conference Director of Education, spoke about the importance of the convention and why it is valuable to teachers and educators: “It’s an amazing experience to see 6,000 Adventist teachers together in one place and focused on learning, spirituality, curriculum—all of the things that go with school, but in an Adventist context.”

Dr. von Pohle values the professional support the convention provides for teachers. “Too often as teachers, we feel very isolated,” she says. “We walk into a classroom in the morning, we shut the door, and we’re in that classroom for the total of the day. It’s great to get together with teachers from other classrooms at our school or from other schools, and maybe even at the conference level, but to see that we are a system this large is really affirming to every teacher. It helps them know that they are not alone. There are other people who do exactly what they do every day to help students. And it helps remind us that we are part of an important ministry that is very valuable to the future of our church.”

Elder Ricardo Graham, President of the Pacific Union Conference, attended the event and expressed his personal support for it. “My story is that I came into the Adventist Church through education, and so education will always have value for me,” he says. “My kids, from K through college, were educated in Adventist schools because my wife and I knew that this is the way the values of Adventism are not only repeatedly transmitted but underscored and re-anchored. You need to give the message over and over again, in varied methods and varied ways, through various teachers and approaches.”

Dr. Von Pohle—whose father was a teacher and whose daughter, Brooke Lemmon, is a classroom teacher in Southeastern California—affirmed the professional development the convention offers teachers, “Educators are professionals. And as professionals, they continue to grow and develop,” she says. “They’re not stagnant. They continue to learn. They continue to grow. Coming to a convention, taking a summer school class, reading a professional journal or a book: those are all ways that they continue to sharpen their edges, making sure that they’re as prepared as they can be so every student has the opportunity to learn.”