Grow Your Own Educators Convening

News Coverage of the 2024 Convening

The University of Arkansas presents its inaugural, interactive Grow Your Own (GYO) Educators Convening

Rooting Our Future Within Our Community

Monday, Feb. 5, 2024
8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn, 1325 N. Shiloh Drive, Fayetteville

The symposium is free, but registration, limited to 100 participants, is required. Registration has closed.
Registration deadline: Thursday, Feb. 1

Earn 7 hours of Professional Development

Convening Details

Grow Your Own (GYO) Educator programs have increased across the nation and in Arkansas, creating innovative pathways to address teacher shortages — both generally and in critical areas such as special education and multilingual teachers. This inaugural, interactive GYO Educators Convening will address four areas:

  1. The critical role of community teachers
  2. The state of GYO Educator programs in the U.S. and Arkansas including types of GYO programs and best practices
  3. Voices from the field on GYO teachers’ personal and professional impact on their community
  4. GYO action planning to begin setting into motion the steps needed to grow your own community educators

PDF of flyer

Flyer for GYO Convening

Keynote Topics, Speakers

Conra Gist

Community Teachers: How Can We Radically Reimagine Them?

Conra D. Gist

Dr. Conra Gist is an associate professor at the University of Houston. She is co-editor of the Handbook of Research on Teachers of Color and Indigenous Teachers (2022) and currently leads an Educator Diversity Research-Practice Partnership Lab. She will offer insights into how community teacher development initiatives can be designed to broaden community members’ access to the profession and create spaces for radical reimagination.

Amaya GardiaKarli Saracini

The State of GYO Programs in the U.S. and Arkansas: A Look at Best Practices

Amaya Garcia (left) and Karli Saracini

Amaya Garcia is director of PreK–12 Research and Practice with the Education Policy program at New America. As a national expert on GYO educator programs and policies, she leads New America’s GYO Educators National Network, a professional learning community for GYO programs across the country.

Karli Saracini, Ed.S., is assistant commissioner at the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Educator Effectiveness/Licensure.

They will discuss GYO programs and policies at the federal and state level with a deep dive into what is happening statewide in Arkansas.

Socorro Herrera

'Listen to My Story: Faith, Family and Fortitude to Make a Difference,' panel discussion

Socorro Herrera and GYO Graduates

Socorro Herrera, Ed.D., is a renowed author, teacher educator and director of the Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy at Kansas State University. She is also a former director of Project BESITOS, a federally funded GYO program resulting in 115 students earning their bachelor's degrees in education and becoming qualified, bilingual/ESL endorsed teachers. The panelists will share their personal and professional experiences.

Hotel Accommodations

The University of Arkansas GYO Educators Convening has a block of rooms reserved at the Hilton Garden Inn which is located off the Wedington exit of Interstate 49 in Fayetteville. Reservations may be made by calling:  

Hilton Garden Inn
1325 N. Shiloh Dr.
Fayetteville, AR 72704
479-856-6040, Dial 0 and ask for the "GYO Educator Convening" block rate.

There is adequate parking in and around the hotel. Pre-registration for packets will be at the Hilton Garden Inn.


8:30 - 9 a.m. — Registration and continental breakfast 1 - 2 — Interactive Panel
9 - 9:10 — Welcoming Remarks 2 - 2:15 — Break
9:10 - 10:10 — Keynote Speaker I 2:15- 3:15 — Roundtable
10:10 - 10:25 — Break 3:15- 3:30 — Q & A
10:25 - noon — Keynote Speaker II 3:30 - 4 — Closing and Evaluation
Noon - 1 p.m. — Lunch  

Teachers will receive a certificate for 7 hours of Professional Development and ADE Assurance Number upon completion of a survey.

For more information on the Grow Your Own (GYO) Educators Convening contact Diana Gonzales Worthen, Ph.D., at or Sandra Bowman, Ed.D., at

The convening is sponsored by the U of A College of Education and Health Professions, the Walton Family Foundation and Projects REACH and ELEVATE.