University of Central Florida education majors will get to experience what it’s like to present at a professional conference at the upcoming HAPPY Hour Student Showcase, which will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26.

Hosted by the College of Education and now in its eighth year, the showcase serves as a networking and professional development event for 400 to 500 teacher candidates each year. The event will begin at the Education Complex, and sessions also will be held at the Morgridge International Reading Center and the Teaching Academy.

“This in-house conference duplicates the expectations of professional conferences and serves as a forum for teacher candidates to share their expertise with their peers,” said showcase chair Karen Verkler, an associate professor in foreign language education who first initiated the HAPPY Hour program.

HAPPY Hour, which stands for Having Active Participation Prepares You, is an initiative that provides workshops throughout the year for teacher candidates in the College of Education. HAPPY Hour also hosts the annual Student Showcase each spring, highlighting several of these students by providing them with professional conference experience, and then preparing them after the event for publication or inclusion in an undergraduate Honors in the Major thesis.

This year, 117 students will share 73 presentations focusing on what they have learned in their classes and internships; teaching-related talents that can be easily taught to an audience; innovative classroom activities; and other programs. After submitting proposals at the end of the fall semester, students had the opportunity to work with faculty mentors to create their presentations. In addition, two student showcase presenters will qualify for a $500 scholarship that will enable them to attend another professional conference.

Some of this year’s presentation topics include “DIY Decorations for the Classroom: Do-able and Discounted,” “When History and Technology Collide” and “The Art of Storytelling.” For senior Emily Henn, an elementary education and history double-major, her presentations will revolve around interactive whiteboard technology and its importance in the classroom.

“I became interested in this topic because I have visited and volunteered in several Orange County elementary schools that now have interactive whiteboards,” said Henn. “And though this technology brings a lot of opportunities to the classroom, I found that many teachers in the schools were unsure how to use the boards or incorporate this tool into their teaching.”

Henn’s presentations, “Don’t Fear the Whiteboard” and “Interactive Whiteboard Blues,” will help other education majors implement technology such as Promethean and SMART Boards in their teaching careers. These devices look like regular whiteboards but allow teachers to digitally project information with which they can interact using a stylus or other instrument.

“As schools incorporate more and more technology to accommodate students of the digital age, the demand for teachers who know how to use technology and are comfortable with these cutting edge education tools continues to rise,” said Henn. “The benefit that my presentation can give to other teacher candidates is two-fold: participants will increase their marketability as they become familiar with interactive whiteboards while also collecting interactive teaching ideas that they can use in their future classrooms to encourage student motivation and learning.”

The HAPPY Hour Student Showcase also will feature a panel of recent UCF graduates who will share tips and experiences from their first year of teaching, as well as a keynote presentation from Miramar High School band director Alvin Davis, the 2012 Florida Teacher of the Year and national finalist. In addition, students can go through mock interviews and resume critiques with local principals and assistant principals.

“Students get to network with each other, with principals and with currently practicing teachers,” said Verkler. “Students have been offered jobs or job interviews by principals impressed by students’ presentations. Students also get to network with the exhibitors, who oftentimes can connect them to resources to help them in the teaching profession.”

Registration for the HAPPY Hour Student Showcase costs $10 online and $15 on-site. Attendees who register online will qualify for door prizes.