Katey Batey and Thom Browne recently earned the chance to share their stories with thousands of area teachers and community members at the Extra Yard for Teachers Summit, sponsored by the College Football Playoff Foundation. The Summit, held Saturday, Jan. 10, in conjunction with the College Football National Championship, featured inspiring speakers from across the country, including former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Condoleeza Rice.
The pair was chosen to present based on video entries they submitted to a speaker contest held by the Foundation that invited teachers to tell stories about why they teach. Batey, a fourth-grade writing and science teacher at S.S. Conner Elementary, decided to “share my personal journey with teaching; I felt that this was a great opportunity to use my voice and my experiences.” She said she was honored by her selection, and the opportunity to take part in “an incredible experience that will most certainly impact my life.”
Browne, an eighth-grade reading teacher at Raul Quintanilla Middle School, feels his selection is a positive reminder that stories inspired by student concerns about education need to be heard. “Many of my students have valid concerns about the way school systems work. I use my poetry to make their voice a little louder,” said Browne.
He noted that because they are young people, their concerns are often dismissed. His presentation addressed student views on state testing and grades. “It was inspired specifically by the words of one of the young ladies who attends the poetry club I facilitate,” he explained.
Batey hopes her talk, “Putting the belief back into education,” helped teachers realize they are appreciated, their profession is admirable. She wanted them to leave the Summit energized about education and their role. Browne’s aim was to remind teachers of their intention as educators, and he hoped they would “find perspective in the words and concerns of students.”
The honor of being selected as speakers for the Summit boosts these teachers’ students as well. “I want to be that positive role model who can show my students that we can rise above any circumstance. Hard work and dedication will end with a positive reward,” said Batey.
For Browne, “The success I have had with my poetry has already given hope to some of the young poets I mentor. Other students have begun to see how the ability to tell a story can give you real power.”