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Behind the Scenes of the ISJL Education Conference
By ISJL Education Fellow Hannah Klegon
The annual ISJL Education Conference is almost here, and the Education Team has been hard at work making sure that it is the best one yet! You may or may not be aware, but tons of preparation goes into planning these hectic three days; we literally start planning for the next year's conference the day after the current year's conference ends. Here is an insider look at the whole process!
Everyone knows we assign participants to specific tables for each meal. But one of the hottest questions we face when prepping for the conference is: “What on earth can we serve to a large number of people to satisfy the majority of our participants?” We take a ton of time to think the food itself through. We start with what we served last year, and we talk in detail about what we liked, and what we didn’t. We also take into consideration the Qualtrics (survey) comments during this meeting. Finally, we start to narrow it down, and we call up the Hilton in Jackson. Next: the fun part. Michele Schipper, our CEO, and a lucky guest journey to our host site of the Hilton and taste test all of the food options. We will tell them “this is too spicy,” or “there isn’t enough jam.” Eventually, a decision is made, and all will be happy. We hope.
I bet y’all are wondering how all the supplies for each room and each presentation are so perfectly organized. Well, it’s because of a simple organizational method we like to call “boxes.” What are in these boxes? Each room we use at the Hilton gets its own box. In the box are dividers with other pieces of boxes. In each division, there are all the supplies and handouts needed for that particular session at that particular time. To add to this simple organizational method, the supplies are put in in order of when they will be used. If on Sunday at 8pm a Wild Card needs handouts, they would be on the top of the box. Once the session is done, the supplies are taken out, and the next set of materials is on the top. Simple stuff, right? We try to make it as smooth as possible for our presenters and participants.
A big part of behind the scenes is the Fellow job assignments. Each Fellow gets given a specific job for the conference. And, it is your lucky day because I’m about to reveal what each Fellow’s job is. First, I present Josh Altshuler, who is in charge of coordinating all the speakers and all the vendors at the conference. This position involves communicating with them, finding out any supplies and set up needs—the works, months in advance. Next up, we have Becca Leaman on boxes. As described above, Becca is in charge of coordinating this crucial task for the conference. Without her, there would be no pens, paper, or sticky notes. We’ve got the person in charge of our schedule and our program booklet, and that is… drum roll, please… Mackenzie Haun! Last, but not least, Carrie Bohn is in charge of what we call "name tags." Name tags may seem self-explanatory, but Carrie is also in charge of making all the table assignments for the meals. At the conference, we like to mix it up a bit and take advantage of the networking opportunity during meals. Carrie, therefore, has the task of creating table assignments while making sure people from the same community are not seated at the same table all the time. It is quite the puzzle, but Carrie has proven herself up for the challenge.
Now, you might be thinking, what about the new first-year Fellows? Well, when they arrive in Jackson starting in June, they get thrown on into a job, and we can’t wait to see what they will bring to the table!