By Mary Lawrence
Although this year’s Church Educational System Conference is the first by that name, it will be a reunion for many people.
Formerly known as the CES Symposium, the conference is designed to give CES administrators an opportunity to meet with the teachers – full-time, part-time or volunteers – and instruct them and share scriptural themes to help them plan for their upcoming school year, said Douglas Williams, CES Director of Communication Services.
“It’s almost like a family reunion,” Williams said. It is the one time a year that the CES Administrators get to meet and instruct the teachers, he said.
“They changed the name to more closely resemble what it is – a conference,” Williams said.
The CES Symposium began about 24 years ago under the direction of Elder Stanley A. Peterson, the administrator of the CES program at that time, Williams said.
Before 1976, the CES program was small enough that participants came to BYU for the summer, attending school and training sessions, Williams said.
But with the growth of the program, it soon became apparent that the program was too large to continue summer school, he said.
“(The) CES (program) continues to grow every year,” Williams said.
Most of the growth comes from the volunteer teachers who go home with such a positive experience that they tell their friends who make plans to attend the next year, Williams said.
“For many, it is a great opportunity,” he said.
The CES Symposium is not advertised for everyone because it is designed specifically for the CES and volunteer teachers, Williams said.
The conference is for CES full-time, part-time, volunteer teachers, administration, retirees, and their spouses, according to BYU Continuing education Web site.
The teachers come to hear instruction on scriptural themes that will aid them in teaching their students, Williams said.
BYU has been involved for five years, hosting the conference to accommodate the over 9,000 people expected to attend this year, said Duane Hiatt, director of editing and media production in BYU’s continuing education program.
The CES program chooses all the conference topics, and BYU just hosts the conference, Hiatt said.
“Some of the best teachers come to teach on their specialty areas,” he said.