­­­This year’s HAPPY Hour Student Showcase celebrated the 10th anniversary of the HAPPY Hour workshop program, which offers seminars, activities, and professional development opportunities to undergraduate and graduate education students. In honor of the anniversary and as a reinforcement of the positive impacts the HAPPY Hour program can have, the Student Showcase invited CEDHP alumna and 2012 Lake County Schools Rookie Teacher of the Year Christine Palmer to be the keynote speaker.

Ms. Palmer spoke to the attendees at the HAPPY Hour Student Showcase about the importance of education; from a difficult childhood and no thought of ever going to college, Ms. Palmer was able to achieve her dream of being a teacher and inspiring students, regardless of their backgrounds, challenges, or hardships. While a returning student at UCF, Ms. Palmer was the first recipient of the HAPPY Hour Student Showcase Scholarship, and she graduated Cum Laude in 2011 with her degree in elementary education. She credited the HAPPY Hour workshops with being an integral part of her success and development as an educator.

“What the HAPPY Hour Student Showcase does, not to mention the other workshops that are put on throughout the year, is phenomenal,” Ms. Palmer told the crowd of education majors at the Showcase. “When I was in school I was a non-speaker; I was very shy. I knew that talking would probably be required as a teacher, but I wanted to do it anyway. This (the HAPPY Hour program) really helped me be prepared for that; not only me but many of my colleagues too. And that practice led me to some opportunities – I had to give a presentation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the big wigs at my school district, and standing in front of them I thought ‘I can do this.’ And that is because of the HAPPY Hour program.”

Ms. Palmer’s speech also touched on the importance and power of education, relating her own path to her current career and sharing her enthusiasm for education with her current students.

“(For) Many of the students in my classroom, a college career is not even in their reality… They’re just thinking about surviving. And I’m here to tell them that there’s more than just surviving…”

“Christine Palmer embodied the goal of the HAPPY Hour program – the development of its teacher candidates into effective, life-long learners,” Dr. Karen Verkler, organizer of the HAPPY Hour program, tells us. “We are so proud to call Christine one of our own.”

Concluding her speech, Ms. Palmer told everyone at the HAPPY Hour Student Showcase, “Remember why you’re doing this, find people who are happy and positive with you, and remember that the students come first.”

The HAPPY Hour Student Showcase is an annual event that brings students in the College of Education and Human Performance together to interact in a conference-like setting, presenting their best work on education projects, drafting presentation proposals and work plans, and interacting with practicing educators in all fields for professional development. For more information about workshops and the showcase, visit the HAPPY Hour website.