Conference week is going great! Not only was I able to see three old friends from college on Sunday and Monday nights (at delicious restaurants: Taj Mahal and Pantry Crest), catching up with one another's lives and each other's opinions on the state of America, etc., the conference itself has been extremely worthwhile too. I was even proud of myself this evening after spending over two hours at a table with a current employee of a previous organization I've worked for (whom I'd never met) and a presenter from the conference - social anxiety out the roof that they were interested in my opinions aside, we had some really great conversations I can't imagine being brought about in any other environment.
Monday was technically a professional development day for my specific program, which was revitalizing as it's the only time each year we all get together - it was the first time I'd met most of my fellow educators. We shared what we've learned so far and brainstormed how to make our program even more effective than it already is. We watched an incredible documentary, initiating a discussion over epigenetics and reminding us that nurturing mitigates metabolic syndrome - that it does not change your genes, but it changes the way they're expressed. That nurturing is the most powerful thing, regardless of money or environment, in rearing a child but that a mother has little time for nurturing if she's frantically trying to provide basic necessities like shelter. That everything we do is backed by science.
Onto the conference itself. The first day alone I've heard speakers like Dr. John Murphy of my alma mater discuss solution-focused helping and Chief Jim Holler inform an audience how suffocation is the most difficult child murder to prove as homicide and how they do it. But perhaps the most moving was the keynote speaker: Colleen Nick.
|Age Progression to Present Day|
Now, if you're not from Arkansas, or maybe even if you are, you may not be familiar with the Morgan Nick Foundation or the case that began it all. In June 1995, a 6 year old girl was kidnapped from a baseball game in Alma while catching fireflies with two friends, after her mother had told her no several times before finally caving to her daughter's pleas. She has been missing ever since (despite many leads and false confessions), and Colleen has never stopped searching for her. When people ask her why she doesn't just move on, doesn't she wonder that she must be dead, etc. -- she chooses to look at it as: what if she's still out there? Not only has she never given up hope on finding her daughter, she has truly taken a tragedy and turned it into something powerful by developing the Morgan Nick Foundation, which has aided in other children being returned safely home.
This really hit home for me, so I introduced myself and thanked her for her work after her presentation.
144 days prior to Morgan's kidnapping,