WAEOP Member Janice Stepp Reflects on her NAEOP National Conference Experience.
In her own words—
On July 12th I left Seattle for St. Louis where I would attend my 1st ever National Education Office Professionals (NAEOP) Conference July 13 – 16, 2016. My conference roommate Robin Mallory and I arrived at the St. Louis Airport Tuesday afternoon about 5 p.m. I rode the Metro Link for $4, she the shuttle, directly to the Union Station Doubletree by Hilton Hotel and the Hard Rock Café where the Washington delegation were gathered for dinner. Sweet Tea and fine food shared with friends was very welcome after a day of traveling. Much walking and more adventures would be in store for me.
First thing Wednesday morning, I stopped by Registration to pick up my packet on my way to the 1st Timer’s Breakfast, an event for those of us who had never before been to a NAEOP conference. At the breakfast we were given information to enhance our conference experience. We were introduced to the NAEOP Planning Team, NAEOP office staff, Area Directors and others. The Missouri ladies who, as hostesses, wore colorful bandanas identifying them as people we could ask questions of. Acquainting myself with the layout of the hotel, locating various rooms where classes and meetings would be held then determining the best route to take was my next order of business. The hallways for the guest rooms were called “tracks.” If Robins hadn’t told me to turn left when leaving the room, I may have gone the wrong direction on the right track.
Being with people who share the same energy, enthusiasm and passion for students and education is truly a wonderful experience. As a retired Education Office Professional, I was able to share time with other retirees who are still passionate about education and are mentors to those still working. While at an Area Lunch, one question we pondered and shared thoughts about is social media, it’s place in our world and using it responsibly. Classes I took included “Taking Minutes,” Copy-Editing and Proofreading”, Public Speaking, all of which are useful throughout life.
Most memorable were the shared meals, laughter, sharing of ideas and experiences, going to museums, walking through parks and streets of St. Louis, the Arch, a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game, Anheuser Busch to see the Clydesdales and meeting new people. The people in St. Louis were friendly and helpful.
Walking through this old railway station, now a major hotel, I tried to imagine where travelers in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s were going, what they were thinking and what adventures awaited them. I was on my own adventure feeling much as they may have felt as I rented a car after leaving the conference and traveled to Hannibal, Springfield, Joplin to visit family and Kansas City where I visited the Hallmark Visitor Center, a Crayola Store and the Arabia Steamboat Museum on the recommendation of one of our Seattle delegates!
Unfortunately I won’t be able to go to the NAEOP Conference next year in South Carolina but look forward to other NAEOP Conferences in the future. St. Louis in 2016 was a wonderful introduction!